COVID-19 mask use: How to choose, use and care for a mask
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Organization: Public Health Agency of Canada
Date published: 2020-09-29
- Choose a mask made of multiple breathable layers, including a filter layer.
- Choose a mask that fully covers your nose, mouth and chin.
- Make sure your mask fits snugly on your face (no gaps or air leaks).
- Choose a mask that’s clean, dry and damage-free.
- Clean your hands before and after touching your mask.
- Keep your mask on except when:
- eating or drinking
- communicating with someone who is hard of hearing or who reads lips
- If you have to remove your mask:
- replace it as soon as possible
- ensure other measures are in place, such as physical distancing
- Change your mask when it’s damp or dirty.
- Keep soiled masks out of reach of others.
- Store soiled reusable masks in a waterproof bag or container, separate from clean masks.
- Wash reusable masks with hot, soapy water, and dry completely before wearing again.
- Store your mask in a clean paper or cloth bag for a short time if you plan to wear it again.
- Throw used disposable masks and filters in the garbage.
- Don't put a mask on:
- children under 2
- someone who has significant trouble breathing while wearing the mask
- someone who needs help to remove it
- Don't use a:
- mask with exhalation valves or vents
- scarf, bandana, neck gaiter or face shield instead of a mask
- Don't touch the front of your mask.
- Don't hang your mask from your neck or ears, or place it under your chin.
- Don't reuse a mask that’s damp, dirty or damaged.
- Don't share masks.
Protect yourself and others
When used in combination with other recommended public health measures, wearing a mask can help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Masks may be required or recommended in public settings like:
- public transit
Even if masks aren’t required, you can still choose to wear one in shared spaces with people from outside of your immediate household. This applies both indoors or outdoors, and in public or private spaces. Base your decision to wear a mask on:
- COVID-19 activity
- COVID-19 is circulating in your community, including variants of concern
- vaccination status
- you’re unvaccinated or partially vaccinated
- the people you’re with are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated or you don’t know their vaccination status
- personal risk factors
- you or the people you’re with are at greater risk of being exposed to COVID-19 or at risk of more severe disease or outcomes
- comfort level
- you or the people you’re with don’t feel comfortable in a certain situation or setting without wearing a mask
Always follow core public health measures.
- Stay home when ill.
- Improve indoor ventilation.
- Wash or sanitize your hands regularly.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects.
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