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How to Wear Face Masks Safely This Summer

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by Rhoda Venture

Who could have anticipated a world in which we all look like bandits and communicate with our eyes? It’s a little creepy but evidently face masks are part of our ‘new normal.’ Now summer is here and the days are getting toasty. How do we wear face masks safely in the summer heat?

The CDC recommends that everyone wear a face covering in public settings to help slow the spread of COVID-19. However, all face masks are not created equal.

How to Wear Face Masks Safely This Summer

How do you pick a mask?

There are ads everywhere right now for masks. Plain, trendy, paper, cloth, fitted…. how do we choose?
Most of us aren’t health care professionals and just need a serviceable mask that protects others from viral droplets. Look for masks with multiple layers, are tightly woven and easy to wash. You may also want to choose one with a pocket for disposable filters (like paper coffee filters).

Try to find a mask with an adjustable fit and a bot of metal that molds around your nose. A close fit helps keep your mask from slipping and reduces the need to touch your face.

How to Choose A Cloth Face Mask

What materials work well in the heat?

Choose materials that are breathable like 100% cotton. Light-colored T-shirts or woven cotton sheets work well. Stay away from trendy looks like loosely crocheted masks. While they may seem more comfortable, crocheted masks are too porous to prevent the spread of airborne droplets.

Should I wear a face mask outdoors?

We’re expected to wear face masks when shopping at retail stores, picking up at restaurants, visiting hospitals, or using public transportation. They’re mandatory in portions of 39 states. But what about outdoors?

It may not be necessary to wear a mask while running, biking or hiking, although you should keep one handy. If you encounter larger groups or crowded spaces, you can put it on.

When you’re out at a beach or lake, maintain social distancing. If you can’t stay six feet apart, a mask is a good idea. Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, stated “So we really want to be clear all the time that social distancing is absolutely critical,” she said. “And if you can’t social distance and you’re outside, you must wear a mask.”

How long should I wear a mask in the heat?

Hot weather can make wearing a mask uncomfortable. Try to limit the amount of time you need to wear one. Don’t wear it while in your own car alone and streamline your errands when possible.

If you work outside, take breaks often and swap your masks for clean ones. Be sure to wash hands before replacing them and don’t touch the front of the mask.

Replace or wash often

According to the Mayo Clinic, cloth face masks should be washed after every day of use. Toss it in the washing machine with regular detergent using the warmest water appropriate for the fabric.

If you wash by hand, use a solution of 1/3 cup bleach mixed with a gallon of room temperature water. Soak for 5 minutes and then rinse completely. Dry masks on a high heat setting or air dry in the sun if possible.

How to Wash Your Face Mask

While we’d much rather be wearing just shorts and t-shirts, face masks are now part of our warm weather attire. Take steps to wear them safely so we can all enjoy the long hot days of a summer like no other!


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