The COVID19’s cases have increased significantly in the past few weeks. As sociable creatures, it is tough for human beings to stay in and avoid being close to others, which has led many of us suffering from caution fatigue. Caution fatigue is a new term to describe the emotional exhaustion from following the CDC’s guidelines on how to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. But simple tasks such as frequently washing our hands and wearing a face mask can help eradicate the spread of respiratory diseases, since we are protecting ourselves and our community. But how exactly does a face mask work? Is it really effective?
Face masks have been used throughout history. Their origins can be traced back way before the common era, in the Middle East and Asia, where face masks have been used for various reasons, such as covering oneself from the desert dust. In China, through the Emperor’s orders, servants were asked to use facial silk scarves to cover their mouth and noses, under the belief that their breath would not impact the smell and the taste of the food they were serving. Check out this article for more on the ancient origin of face masks. Nowadays, surgical face masks have been used primarily by doctors to protect themselves while working in hospitals, and across the globe by regular citizens in areas that are extremely polluted.
A face mask should cover both nose and mouth to prevent bacteria and viruses from spreading while speaking, coughing, sneezing, or breathing, yet the wearer should still be able to have all of these bodily reactions effortlessly while wearing one, which is why the material that face masks are made of matters. A recent study from Florida Atlantic University shows which are the best masks to keep viruses to yourself, in case you are infected and asymptomatic. Through a simulation, the researchers used mannequins to reproduce sneezes and see how far oral droplet particles travel. In summary, they found out that it is best to wear face masks that are thicker or have several layers. If the only item you have available at home is a light scarf or bandana, the best thing you can do is fold it three times to ensure it protects you and others from spreading germs.
If you purchased a reusable fabric face mask recently, you can do a simple test to see if it will effectively protect you and others by lifting it up to a source of bright light. If a lot of light comes shining through the fabric’s “pores,” then that means you should double up by either folding the mask or adding an extra layer of fabric you can easily sew into it. Another good solution is using two face masks.
By using a face mask, you will be protecting your health and the health of those around you. It is also an act of solidarity and kindness during the COVID19 pandemic as we must be aware of those who are currently sick or have battled illness. You can also turn it into a fashion statement by buying different designs from independent artists or by making one yourself! Times like this call for many creative solutions. Here is an easy tutorial to make your own face mask at home. Remember to wear a face mask, practice social distancing, and to wash your hands!