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How to put on a surgical mask

How to put on a surgical mask

The surgical mask is a device primarily used by health professionals to protect themselves and their patients from infectious diseases in the air, body fluids, and small airborne particles. During a particularly active epidemic, health services may recommend that the public wear this type of mask to protect themselves. They are generally designed not to tighten too much on the face while effectively covering the mouth and nose.

Method 1: Understanding how it works

1-	Understand what it protects you from

      1- Understand what it protects you from. Surgical masks are designed to cover the mouth and nose. They are made of a material that blocks droplets, splashes, and other particles that may contain viruses or bacteria that you want to protect yourself from.

Note: small particles can still pass through the mask. In addition, since it is not placed tightly against the face, it is possible that particles enter passing through the edges.

 Know the difference with an N95 mask

1    2-      Know the difference with an N95 mask. An N95 mask is a device used by healthcare professionals to block 95% of smaller particles. Unlike the ordinary surgical mask, the N95 mask fits the shape of the face better to stay against the skin and makes it possible to filter out smaller particles suspended in the air.
Even if it can block 95% of small particles (i.e. about 0.3 microns in size), there is a risk of 5% of the particles present penetrating the barrier of the device.
They are not intended for use by children and men who have a mustache or a beard.
Some of them are equipped with an exhalation valve designed to reduce the accumulation of condensation inside and make it easier for the user to breathe. However, they should not be used in environments that must remain sterile, as the valve on the device could allow unfiltered (and possibly contaminated) air to pass through.
In general, each type of N95 mask should be sold with specific instructions on how to install and remove it. You must follow its instructions first to ensure you and your patients are optimally protected. Health professionals often also receive training on how to use these devices correctly.

Method 2: Put on the mask

 Wash your hands

1    1-      Wash your hands. Before touching a surgical mask, you should wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
After you get your hands wet and apply the soap, you should rub them together for at least twenty seconds before rinsing them.
Always use disposable paper towels to wipe your hands and throw them away when you are finished.

Tip: open or close the door with the paper towel before throwing it away.

Check the surgical mask

2    2-      Check the surgical mask. Once you've taken a new one out of the box, take a look at it to make sure it doesn't have any flaws, holes or tears. If you see any problem, you should throw it away and choose a new one from the package.

Turn it in the right direction

3    3-      Turn it in the right direction. In order for the device to fit the shape of your face as well as possible, the upper part is generally more solid so that you can fold it all around the bridge of the nose. You must then make sure that this part is on top before putting the mask on your face.

Put the right side on your face

4    4-      Put the right side on your face. The inside of the mask is white while the outside is usually a different color. Before putting it on your face, you need to make sure the white side is facing your face.

Put it on your face

5    5-      Put it on your face. There are several types of surgical masks and each has a different method of holding it on the face.

-          Ear loops: some masks have two loops on each side which allow them to be held at ear level. They are generally made of an elastic material which allows them to be stretched. If you choose this type of mask, simply pass the first loop around one of your ears and the second loop around the second.

-          The fasteners: some masks must be fixed with fasteners that you put on the back of your head. Typically, they have a pair of ties at the top and another pair at the bottom. Grab this mask by the upper ties, pass it around the top of your head and fix them behind by making a knot.

-          The bands: some masks are equipped with elastic bands that you put around your head (unlike those that you put around the ears). Hold it in front of your face, pull the strip to pass it over the top of your head and adjust it around the head. Then pass the bottom strip around your head and hold it in place at the base of the skull.

Adjust the nose strip

6    6-      Adjust the nose strip. Now that you have installed the mask on your face, you should use your index finger and thumb to pinch the rigid part at the top of the mask and mold it around the bridge of the nose.

Attach the bottom if necessary

7    7-      Attach the bottom if necessary. If you have chosen a mask with bands that attach at the top and bottom, you can now tie a knot at the bottom around the base of the skull. Since this step could have an impact on the comfort of the mask, it would be better that you first adjust the nasal band before tightening the bands around your head.
If you have already tightened them, you could tighten them a little more if necessary.

Adjust the mask

8    8-      Adjust the mask. Once you've held it in place, adjust it to make sure it covers your face and mouth and that the bottom edge covers your chin.

Expert warning: “Masks are only effective when you wash your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based cleaning gel."

Method 3: Remove the mask

Wash your hands

1    1-      Wash your hands. You may need to wash your hands depending on the activity you did before removing the mask. You could also take off your disposable gloves, wash your hands and remove the mask last.

Be careful when removing it

2    2-      Be careful when removing it. As a rule, you should only remove it by touching the edges, ties or loops. Do not touch the area that covers your mouth and nose, as it may be contaminated.
For earrings: use your hands to hold the earrings and remove them from your ears.
For the ties: start by undoing the knots that you made and remove the ties from the top. Finally, remove it by holding it by the top clips.
For the bands: use your hands to raise the elastic from the bottom to the top over your head, then repeat the same operation for the elastic from the top. Take out the mask while holding it by the top elastic.

Throw it away safely

3    3-      Throw it away safely. It is designed to be used only once. As soon as you have removed it, you must throw it away immediately.
If you are in a medical environment, there is probably a bin specially designed to collect hazardous waste such as gloves and masks.
In a non-medical environment where the mask could be contaminated, you should put it in a plastic bag. Close it and then throw it in the trash.

Wash your hands again

4    4-      Wash your hands again. Once you have safely disposed of it, you should wash your hands a second time to be sure they are clean and that you have not contaminated them by touching the device.

You should use soap and water to wash your hands whenever necessary. However, if you don't have either, you can use an antibacterial gel that contains at least 60% alcohol. If you want to be sure you have put enough, you must rub your hands against each other for at least ten seconds before they are dry.
You will also find various websites online that will give you more information about the different masks and their specific use. These sites often present photos, comparisons between each model and a list of recognized manufacturers.

Surgical masks are only designed to be used once by one person. When you remove it, you should throw it away right away and not wear it anymore.
There are many types of masks for non-medical purposes that you will find in DIY stores. They are designed to avoid inhaling dust through your nose or mouth when working with wood, metal or other building materials. Non-medical masks are not as well controlled as their medical versions and should not be used in a medical environment.
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