Today, face masks are everywhere. While we wait for COVID-19 vaccines to be widely available, covering our face is perhaps the most effective way to protect ourselves and each other from contracting COVID-19 when we leave our homes.
Our team at Defender Safety knows a thing or two about face masks. Before the COVID-19 pandemic became our top priority, we had been one of the fastest growing companies in the personal and construction safety equipment market. Since the start of the pandemic, more than 90% of our business has shifted to developing and manufacturing top quality, reasonably priced PPE for organizations and consumers.
Back in March, N95 respirators became a household name. We’ve been selling N95 masks since day one to construction clients. These masks are typically what workers wear when cutting marble and stone, installing sheetrock and working with concrete to protect themselves from dangerous dust.
While the initial public hysteria around N95s has quieted, consumers are now faced with a seemingly unlimited assortment of facial coverings. Designer fashion brands are coming out with masks, like the $125 Telli Swift Satin Mask, or you can opt to buy a box of 600 disposable masks at Costco for just about 16 cents each.
But, not all masks are created equal and not every mask is appropriate for a given situation. Like any form of protective equipment, you want to maximize your protection while minimizing any potential discomfort. If you’re an experienced cyclist going for a leisure ride around the block, a helmet is always a good idea but anything more, say elbow or knee pads, would probably be overdoing it.
Similarly, seeing a relative while socially distanced outside at the park is generally a low risk activity. A facial covering is always a good idea, but you likely don’t need an N95 or Level 3 surgical mask. A lower level of protection that provides greater comfort would likely be a better choice.
So how do you know which mask you should wear?
First, you must think about your personal risk level. If you are either a high-risk individual and/or you will find yourself in high-risk environments where social distancing is difficult or impossible, you’ll want to make sure that the mask you select has an appropriate level of particle filtration.
Next, you should consider your comfort level. If you have an N95 respirator or level 2 or 3 surgical mask but find it incredibly uncomfortable and are going to constantly be readjusting it on your face, you’re probably better off with a different mask. There are a lot of factors that contribute to how comfortable a mask feels on your face. The material, the breathability, its ability to manage moisture and the way it’s held to your face can all impact how a mask feels.
At the end of the day, your best bet is to opt for a mask with a high-level of particle filtration that feels comfortable on your face and doesn’t quickly become wet and gross from continuous wear over your nose and mouth.
Remember, the mask is just one part of protecting yourself and others. Keeping your hands clean, away from your face and using common sense while out in public is just as critical.