Best Practices for Wearing a Protective Mask

The spread of COVID-19 has us all on high alert, especially older adults who have been identified as high-risk for the illness. We know that proactive measures like handwashing and social distancing are our best defense against COVID-19. Wearing protective masks can also help slow the spread. 

Does a mask help? 

Viruses, like COVID-19, are spread primarily through person-to-person contact. The virus can travel through tiny droplets from a person’s nose and mouth. Sneezing, coughing or even talking can cause these droplets to emit and anyone who is in six feet of the person can breathe in these droplets. Protective masks work to prevent droplet secretions from getting to other people. If you are unable to keep six-feet social distance from others, it’s a good idea to wear a mask. 

Please note, children under the age of two or anyone who has trouble breathing should never wear a mask. 

What type of mask do I need? 

Surgical and N95 masks should be reserved for frontline healthcare professionals. Cloth masks are sufficient for the general public. Make sure your mask has multiple layers of fabric for the best protection and ensure you have adequate coverage over your mouth and nose. Masks should extend over the ears and should be close fitting to your face. There are a variety of homemade options for creating masks. The CDC has provided several tutorials.

How should I wear a mask? 

Masks can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 but only when worn properly. These steps will ensure your mask is on securely. 

  1. Sanitize and/or wash your hands.
  2. Put on your mask by tying the top ties first and then the bottom, or fastening securely over the ears.
  3. Ensure the mask fits snugly over the mouth and nose and extends below the chin. If the mask has wire at the top, pinch around your nose for a close fit. 
  4. Sanitize and/or wash your hands again. 

If you need to remove the mask temporarily to eat or drink, carefully remove the mask and lay on a clean paper towel. Be careful not to touch the inside of your mask. Sanitize and wash your hands again after handling. 

How often should the mask be washed? 

Masks should be washed and sanitized after every use as potential harmful droplets could be contained on either side of the mask after wearing it. Cloth masks can be washed in a washing machine or hand washed well with soap and water. Store clean masks in a clean bag or closed container where it can’t be contaminated before wearing again. 

At Immanuel, our not-for-profit mission guides us to provide Christ-centered service to seniors, each other and the community. Since our founding in 1887, our priorities have always been to serve those in need, especially in troubling times. We’re proud of our teams in their support of preventative precautions to keep senior residents, participants and employees safe and well. If you are supporting an aging loved one or are worried about what’s next—we’re here for you. 

For more details on Immanuel’s response to COVID-19, and other trusted resources, check our updates page.

Thank you to our resources
Immanuel Medical Director, Devin J. Fox, MD, MBA, FACP