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Face Masks 101: Why They’re Important and How to Wear One Properly

As a result of the second wave of the virus in Victoria, the Victorian Government has made the wearing of masks in public places mandatory as of today, 23 July 2020.

Masks prevent the spread of COVID-19 by stopping those who have the virus from spreading it. While masks aren’t a guaranteed method of preventing the spread (it can still be transmitted via tiny droplets), they’re very effective at stopping large droplets (liquid from coughing or sneezing), which are one of the main ways the virus is spread. Plus, a recent study has shown that wearing a mask dramatically reduces your chances of contracting the virus. 

If you’re living in Victoria and required to wear a mask, or are located elsewhere and want to wear one, here’s what you need to know.

The difference between surgical and fabric masks

Both surgical masks and fabric masks help prevent the spread of COVID-19, as well as other viruses. However, the two are subtly different. 

A surgical mask is designed to prevent the wearer from spreading illness and disease by catching large droplets. These masks are typically required when entering hospitals. 

A cloth mask, on the other hand, is multi-layered and helps protect people from the spread of disease in a public setting. 

Typically, surgical masks are disposable, whereas cloth or fabric masks are able to be reused after they’ve been washed. 

Even when wearing a mask, though, it is important to practise good hygiene and wash your hands frequently. The real danger of catching COVID-19 comes from touching an infected surface and then touching your face. 

Where can you buy face masks?

Masks are available at most pharmacies and, due to the pandemic, supermarkets, convenience stores, and even some petrol stations. However, it is important to remember that, as a result of the pandemic, these masks may be difficult to acquire due to overwhelming public demand – so expect delays. 

Masks are also available online, with Amazon stocking several different kinds of masks. The Iconic also stocks some stylish fabric masks and offers express delivery on certain items. 

If you wish to buy from local Australian businesses, the following all make both stylish and effective masks: Sisterworks, Pinkysstore, and Secondstitch.   

How to make your own

If you’re in dire need of a mask and are unable to wait for one to arrive online or restock in a nearby pharmacy or supermarket, you can make your own. There are several YouTube tutorials that do a fantastic job of guiding you through the process of making your own mask. Some of these even offer free patterns and reuse old and unused clothes. The following YouTube channels have great instructional videos on how to make your own mask: LaurDIY, CNN, and Daisy Multifacetica.   

Dos and don’ts of wearing a face mask

When wearing a mask, it is important to first wash your hands before placing the mask on your face in order to prevent any germs from getting on the underside of the mask. After inspecting the mask for holes, you should place the mask on your face. Your mask should cover your nose, mouth, and chin, with no gaps along the side of your face. If you’re wearing a surgical mask, make sure that the stiff edge of the mask runs along your nose. 

During use, you should avoid touching the mask and, when it comes to removing the mask, remove it via the ear straps. 

If you’re wearing a surgical mask, you should place the mask directly in the bin and then wash your hands. However, if you’re wearing a fabric mask, wash your hands before removing the mask and, if you plan on reusing it, ensure you wash the mask in hot water with soap or detergent. 

Also, make sure that any mask you wear is free of damage or holes, and never share your mask with others.