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How to properly wear and dispose of an N95 mask?

India today is gripped with the fear of CoronaVirus and the number of cases is yet to see a downward trend anytime soon. Our best protection against the novel CoronaVirus is to practice social distancing, maintain hand hygiene, and wearing a mask. There are different masks available in India, a cloth mask, Surgical Masks and FFPRs a.k.a an N95 in India.

An N95 mask has five-layered protection with a close gripping facial fit and a Bacterial Filtration Efficiency (BFE) > 95% which makes it the best protection against COVID-19 when you are in a public space.

While we know why it is important to wear an N95 mask, there is a lack of awareness on how to properly wear and dispose of an N95 mask? If you are struggling with the same, here is a step by step guide for you.

Prerequisites of Using An N95 Mask

1. Always check the authenticity of an N95 mask before purchasing. Always buy a certified N95 which is tested by an accredited lab. Non certified respirators might not have met the necessary specifications and thus may not provide the necessary protection you require.

2. Ensure that you have shaved your facial hair to ensure that the mask fits you perfectly in order to provide you with complete protection. If shaving is not an option, use the mask in a manner that provides you with the closest fit.

How to Wear an N95 Mask Safely:

1. Ensure you wash your hands for 40 seconds using soap and water before touching the mask. Dry your hands so that the mask doesn’t become damp. In case of unavailability of water, sanitise your hands properly using an alcohol-based hand rub.

2. Ensure that there are no holes or tears in the mask.

3. Now, place the mask in the palm of your hand in a manner that the straps of the mask face the floor, and the metal piece/stiff edge is on the outside. Now, gently place it over your face ensuring it covers your mouth, nose and chin.

4. Mold the nose piece around the bridge of your nose: Set the tips of your first 2 fingers on either side of the metal nose clip at the top of your mask. Run your fingers down both sides of the strip, molding it along the bridge of your nose.

5. Halo N95 Respirators are available in two different securing methods: elastic ear loops or adjustable head straps. If you are using the former, place the elastic ear loops around the ear or incase of adjustable head straps, around and over your head. Tighten the head strap using the adjustable beads attached on the strap at the back. Make sure the respirator fits well but not too tight that it causes breathing difficulty.

6. Perform a positive pressure user seal check(fit test): After donning the respirator appropriately, exhale gently while blocking the paths for air to exit the facepiece. A successful check is when the facepiece is slightly pressurized before increased pressure causes outward leakage.

7. Once worn, do not touch the mask.

How to Remove an N95 Mask Safely:

1. While removing the mask, never touch the front of the mask. Only touch the straps to remove it.

2. Once removed, do not keep it on any surface or anywhere where it can come in contact with others.

3. Immediately find a closed bin and discard the mask.

4. Wash your hands to ensure complete safety.

Other Things To Note While Using an N95:

1. Never use an N95 that’s torn/damaged

2. Never use an N95 that’s damp

3. Never re-use an N95

4. Never leave an N95 hanging around the neck

5. Never share an N95 or any other mask with others

6. Never wear an N95 that doesn’t fit well

7. Last, but not the least,

While masks are essential in our fight against Covid-19, they should not be considered as a replacement for social distancing, health hygiene and other public health measures. Self isolate yourself even when you witness minor symptoms like cold, cough etc. Follow good respiratory hygiene, stay home unless going out is necessary and stay safe.

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