What kinds of Mask should You use
As cities and states start reopening stores, restaurants, and other public accommodations, the use of masks will increase. Some wear masks to protect themselves and others. In contrast, some wear them only in response to government orders or mandates from individual businesses. With several options on offer, from surgical grade masks to cloth coverings, you should understand the advantages and limits of each covering.
With masks, you need to understand whether they protect you from others, others from you, or both. Most 3 ply disposable masks and cloth coverings do provide some two-way defense. However, cloth coverings deliver the lowest level of protection. They offer more protection to other people from your germs than they provide to you from their germs as they lack seals, and particles can enter from the edges of the mask.
Before we discuss specific masks, remember to take these steps to wear your mask correctly:
- Wash your hands before putting on your mask.
- For 3 ply disposable masks, ensure the colored side faces out.
- Secure the straps, and adjust as needed to cover the nose, mouth, and chin.
- Avoid touching the inside of the mask.
- Take off the mask without touching the front of the mask — use the straps.
- Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before and after removing the mask.
- If possible, wash and dry the mask before reuse.
These are the specification on common masks available to you:
- N95 — these are surgical-grade masks that trap 95% or more of particles as small as .3 microns. The CDC, federal, and state governments request that you refrain from purchasing these masks to save them for frontline healthcare workers who treat COVID-19 infected patients daily. These frontline workers faced shortages of critical PPE, including N95 masks, at the beginning of the pandemic. The government restricts these masks to medical facilities to avoid a repeat of the PPE shortage.
- KN95 — KN95 masks provide protection nearly identical to the N95, even though their manufacture corresponds to a foreign standard. In most specifications, including testing, they offer the same performance. Most healthcare companies use N95 masks. Therefore, you may find more KN95 masks available for general purchase. Men should remain cleanly shaven to obtain the maximum benefit. Beards and stubble cause a looser fit, allowing a higher percentage of particles around the protection of the mask.
- KF94 masks are the same masks as the KN95 and the N95, except that production occurs in South Korea. It stops 94% of the particles as small as .3 microns. As with the KN95, men should remain cleanly shaven while wearing this mask.
- 3 ply disposable masks — commonly known as surgical masks, frequently appear in doctor’s offices and dental offices. 3 ply disposable masks protect you from respiratory secretions of others and protect others from your germs. In most cases, users dispose of surgical masks after a single-use.
All of these masks should provide the protection you seek. However, please reserve the N95 masks for first responders and frontline healthcare workers. At Health Supply World, we offer both the KN95 and 3 ply disposable mask for your safety and peace of mind.