How to keep our mob safe using face masks

Ethan Frenchcommunity alerts, COVID-19, COVID-19 News, Feature

Face masks are now part of everyday life in some parts of Australia.

A face mask is recommended if:

  • there are a lot of people getting sick with coronavirus in your community
  • you can’t keep two big steps away from other people.

In some places though, you have to wear a face mask.

The best thing to do is to follow the advice in your local area.

Wearing a mask helps protect other people in case you’ve got the virus but you don’t have any symptoms. This can help slow down the spread and keep your mob safe.

Remember, using a mask is an extra precaution. You also have to:

  • stay at home if you’re sick
  • keep two big steps away from people when you’re out
  • stay away from large gatherings and crowded indoor areas
  • practise good hygiene.

What kind of face masks should I use?

Disposable masks need less handling (like storage and washing) than reusable fabric masks. However, reusable masks can be used in the community.

There are a few things to remember:

  • If you choose a reusable fabric mask, make sure it has at least two to three layers for better protection
  • At least one layer has to be cotton
  • Change your mask if it gets damp
  • Wash and fully dry your fabric masks before using it again
  • Disposable masks can’t be used twice.

What is the difference between face masks and face shields?

If you’re a health worker, wearing a mask and a shield is the safest option. But for most other people, a face mask is enough to keep our mob safe.

Face shields are mostly used by health workers. Shields are an extra layer of protection because they protect the wearer’s eyes. However, if you are only using a shield, be aware that small particles could make their way underneath or around the sides of the shield. This may result in some of them ending up in your nostrils or mouth. That’s why health workers often wear both a mask and a shield.

Face masks do provide protection but only if they are used correctly. Don’t touch the front of your mask and wash your hands straight away after you take it off. The mask should cover your nose and your mouth. It must fit snugly under your chin, over the bridge of your nose and against the sides of your face. Don’t let it hang around your neck.

Can I make a face mask myself?

Yes, you can. Check out the Department of Health fact sheet on how to make one.

These are the main things you have to take into account if you’re making a mask:

  • The more layers, the better – go for at least two to three layers
  • The weave of the fabric is really important, make sure it is tight-knit
  • Use different fabrics for each layer as they each have different filtering
  • Filtering is important because you can’t use your mask when it’s damp. Use natural fabric for the inside layers
  • Fitting the mask around your face is essential – there shouldn’t be any gaps around the bridge of your nose
  • Masks won’t last for the whole day so make sure you have a couple of spares.