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This is the world of Covid-19 we’re living in and the reminders for us to social distance, wear masks, and wash our hands as frequently as we can has become ad nauseam.
Apart from the constant nagging concern about the impact disposal face masks have on the environment now that every human on this planet is required to wear one (and keep a good, healthy supply of them), another crusade seems to be launching off - cloth face masks.
Friends (and relatives) are now messaging me in groups on promoting the use of reusable cloth masks and other alternatives. The problem is:
How hygienic are they?
How often can we wear them?
How do we clean them?
Where do we get them?
Are they reliable? Do they work the way we need them to?
If we buy them online, how do we know they fit?
Are cloth face masks a solution to social distancing?
How sturdy are these masks?
Do cloth face masks work on children?
Is it any better than N95 (medical grade) face masks
Does it restrict breathing for those who have preexisting conditions?
This article, 6 questions you may have about using cloth face masks, may answer your most pressing questions about using them.
Keeping your Disposal Face Masks Properly
So, if you’re like me, have not hopped onto the cloth face mask bandwagon, here’s what I’ve been advised to do with my face masks whenever I have to take them off or keep them stashed away for future use.
1 - A Nice, Clean, Covered, Dry Place to Store The Face Masks
We might be tempted to just leave them outside on top of the table or coffee table because it is convenient. Everyone in the family can see where they are and it’s easy to just grab and go. But experts say that we need to find a cool, clean, covered, dry place to store the mask.
Whenever we have to take them off for eating (or even just breathing, for chrissakes), we should either have tissues, cloth, zipper bag, or plastic bag to keep them, and not just dump them on top of the restaurant table.
These are prime areas where a lot of people have either touched or coughed on before you took up temporary residence on.
Of course, we don’t have to go bananas about keeping them sterile like it’s a petri dish in a lab. The key takeaway is for us to keep them away from highly handled public areas whenever the face masks are not in use.
2 - Keeping the Used and New Face Masks Separately
The first thing we want to do when we get home after breathing into a face mask the whole day is to ditch them where it is most convenient. This could be the very same place we store the new masks.
Health experts advise against this and, this goes without saying, we should have separate drawers or storage bags for both. If you want to take this a little further, label them...in full neon colors if that floats your boat.
3 - Reusing Rules Of Your Own Face Masks
We’re all guilty of this, say what you will. At one point in time, we get our masks mixed up and end up wearing our husband’s or housemate’s face masks when we’re in a rush to get out of the house...because we’ve all tossed them around or on the same table.
Short of labeling each mask with the first owner’s name every single time you use a new mask, we might end up using the other person’s mask.
I suggest keeping used face masks separate from each other, by person. As it is, I'm having loads of trouble trying to find out where and which bag I should start placing hand sanitizers. I have one big bottle in the car and one small bottle in Kid 1's car. But me and Kid 2....we're still sauntering around looking for one and then forgetting to buy them.
This is beginning to sound tedious and at the end of this darn Pandemic, we’re all going to be pretty good hospital assistants and nurses. This may not be the best thing but I have a plastic bag for each person in this house. Every time we’re not using the face masks, we put them gingerly back into our personal bags. This way, it minimizes confusion and unnecessary cross-contamination.
By the way, the U.S. FDA warns against sharing face masks. HuffPost has this useful article on the best ways to store face masks during this Covid-19 Pandemic.
|Driving back home with mask down to the chin. Ah well...|
4 - Face Mask Usage While Stationary
I’ve been going back to a normal office working environment a couple of times a week and so far, we take off our face masks the moment we plonk ourselves at our tables. We store the face masks properly in a plastic bag and in our individual bags and lockers, but generally, we don’t wear the face masks while at work.
The CDC has warned employees to continue wearing face masks while at work even when they are alone at their own desks. Chances are, people are going to walk by your table, into your office, and you’re going to be coughing, sneezing, or using the office phone and computer all day through.
The Covid-19 virus, as we all know, is airborne.
The advice is especially applicable for people who work in an enclosed place with other people consistently around them.
The Self-Earth Balance
These are simple things we can do everyday to keep ourselves safe. I’m going to explore a little more about how to reduce the pendulum effect this Pandemic will have on our environment and how we can do our bit to reduce our own personal impact after this.
These spray and pray methods will have an impact on the environment at the end of the day. The Coronavirus face masks might have an environmental impact for generations to come, as reported by The Conversation.
Sooner or later, we’re going to have to do something about it. There’s no better way to stay informed by getting a leg up while we’re still in the midst of it.