Proper Mask Etiquette – Do’s and Don’ts

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When it comes to protecting ourselves and others during the pandemic, it’s important to consider proper face mask etiquette.  Edward Hospital staff are urging the greater Naperville community to continue to wear masks – and to do so properly, something Infection Control Manager Mary Anderson says many people in public don’t always do.  “It’s not just wear the mask,” she says.  “It’s wear the mask and wear it correctly and consistently.”

Improper Mask Etiquette

Common mistakes or improper uses of a face mask you should NOT do include:

  • Have material be too loose fitting
  • Not cover the nose and/or mouth
  • Pull mask down to talk
  • Touch the mask often (and not washing hands afterwards)

Putting the Mask On

Medical experts say mask etiquette starts with how you put the mask on.  You should always handle the mask by the ear pieces so as to avoid touching the mask as much as possible, especially if mask has already been worn, to reduce spreading any virus that might be on the mask onto your hands or vice-versa.  If you need to adjust the mask, do so by pushing outward, starting at the bridge of the nose where it should fit snuggly.  If you wear glasses, it should fit nicely underneath them.  If you position your glasses so they are on top of the mask, they’re less likely to get foggy. Be sure the mask fits taught against the sides of your face and underneath the chin so that it stays secure, even while talking.  After putting the mask on, Anderson says its important to wash your hands to remove any virus that may have gotten onto your hands from handling the mask.

Removing the Mask

Just like putting the mask on (except in reverse), you want to clean your hands before removing the mask to reduce the risk of contaminating it and then remove the mask touching only ear straps and stretch the mask out away from your face as you do so.  If it’s a one-time use mask, properly dispose of it in a garbage can.  If you plan to reuse it, be sure to protect the inside of the mask, the part that will touch your face, from being contaminated as you store it.  What you do with the mask after wearing it is just important for mask etiquette.

Finding an Effective Mask

“You want a mask that’s at least two layers and it should be tightly-woven material,” says Anderson.  She says there are two tests to see if the material is tightly-woven.  1) Hold it up to a light and see if any light shines through the weave.  2) When wearing the mask, dangle a piece of tissue between two fingers a few inches from your mouth and blow on it.  If the tissue moves at all, that means the air is coming through and therefore the mask won’t be very protective.”

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