By JANE KINGSU CHENG

We’re almost done with the second month of lockdown and we will, most probably, ease our way back to some normalcy soon. Though a majority of us will still be staying at home, we will still go out eventually, whether on a grocery run or on other essential errands. This new normal we are about to face will require all of us to wear masks (because it’s mandatory) every time we step out of the house. It is best that we, as parents, have enough knowledge about these masks so we can properly equip everyone, most especially our family members, as to when, where, and how to wear these masks.

Cloth, surgical, or N95?

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cloth masks are enough where social distancing (six feet apart) isn’t possible. Supermarkets and banks fall under this category. Surgical masks have a water repellant feature that makes it fluid resistant. They are worn by people who need to go to the hospital and healthcare workers who do not have direct contact with infected patients. N95 masks, as the name entails, can block 95 percent of the particles including aerosols. This is the trusted type of masks for frontliners who are exposed to the virus, and should be allocated for them. 

Cloth mask

Cloth masks (Unsplash | MANILA BULLETIN)

Cloth masks will work for regular use. According to Good Housekeeping Institute Textiles Lab, 100 percent cotton is the best choice. Avoid knit fabrics like jersey as it opens up holes if stretched. Some manufacturers even use waterproof lining, and most of them triple the layer of fabric for extra protection. Majority even have an interior pocket for you to put filters (some even use coffee filters—one time use only) inside. Cloth masks are also eco-friendly and cost- effective in the long run.

What is the proper way to wear cloth masks?

Since Filipinos are known for their ingenuity, cloth masks have been sprouting everywhere. Handmade and homemade, we have to make sure that we can wear them comfortably. They should fit snugly and can be secured with ties or ear loops. Start by covering your face with the mask and put the garters over your ears or back of your nape, or secure by tying both ends, whichever is applicable. Multiple fabric layers is highly recommended and can be washed without damaging the shape. Breathing should also be easy when worn. Lastly, wash your hands after wearing your masks. If you are out with no access to a sink, 70 percent isopropyl alcohol will do.

Should children wear masks?

We’ve seen online merchants and sites selling these cute masks (even face shields) for children, but we shouldn’t use these protective measures on children under two years of age. The CDC announced that “cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under two, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.”

Kid wearing cloth mask

Babies have smaller airways, so putting on a mask might cause suffocation. They are also too young to figure out why they have difficulty in breathing and might not be able to take out the mask on their own. As for children two years old and up—yes, you can purchase these masks, just make sure they are fit for kids. 

The best way to protect babies, toddlers, and even children is to stay at home, as mandated by law. As for the parents and everyone who has babies at home, always practice proper hygiene such as frequent washing of hands and cleaning of all surfaces that are frequently touched such as door handles and switches.

Is there a correct way to remove masks?

Avoid touching any part of your body before and after you remove your face mask. Take it off from the back to prevent your hands from touching the mask at all. Dump it immediately into a washing bin with hot water and soap, and wash your hands right after. If you’re outside, you can store them in a zip lock (which you should sanitize after use with alcohol, bleach solution, and/or UVC rays), then clean your hands with alcohol. Do not leave your used mask lying around anywhere. Masks should be worn at all times when you are in public areas—always remember that this is mandated by law.

How often should I clean my mask?

It is highly recommended that you wash your cloth masks after every use. Wash them in hot water and soap, and scrub well. Wash your hands again with soap after you hang your masks to dry. Once dry, iron or steam the masks to kill any bacteria left in them. Some even clean them using UVC rays, but bear in mind that you should not be exposed to these rays as they are harmful to humans.


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://lifestyle.mb.com.ph/2020/05/22/what-parents-should-know-about-cloth-masks/)