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How not to wear a mask

It takes some getting used to wearing a face mask. To get the most benefit, you need to avoid these common mistakes.

Almost overnight, masks in different colors, styles, and materials have appeared on the faces of people around us. While it’s good news that many people are doing their part to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the bad news is that many people are wearing their masks incorrectly.

“Wearing a mask will take some getting used to,” said Dr. Scott Segal, chair of anesthesiology at Wake Forest Baptist Health. “You’re probably wearing it right when it’s a little stuffy.”

One of the biggest mistakes people make is that they fidget with their masks and pull them under the nose or all the way to rest under the chin.

“You should never put your mask on and take it off while you’re on the go,” said Shan Soe-Lin, a lecturer at the Yale Jackson Institute for Global Affairs. “If you bother to use a mask, leave it on.”

Here are the pros and cons of wearing a mask.

Follow these tips to ensure safety once you’ve found the right position to wear your mask:

  • Always wash your hands before and after wearing a mask.

  • Use the ties or loops to put on and take off your mask.

  • Do not touch the front of the mask when you remove it.

  • Put on the mask for residents and remove them during the process in your house. Elevators and stairwells can be heavily contaminated areas.

  • Wash and dry your fabric mask daily and keep it in a clean, dry place.

  • Do not have a false sense of security.

Masks offer limited protection and work better when combined with hand washing and social distancing. “It is not that one excludes the other,” said Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University. “They amplify each other’s effects.”

Illustrations by Eleni Kalorkoti

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