There’s a lot to consider when picking the right mask
Traveling can already be an uncomfortable experience, but wearing a face mask while you’re in transit doesn’t have to be. With more and more airlines and airports mandating the use of face coverings due to the global coronavirus pandemic, finding a comfortable, breathable face mask that still offers adequate coverage is more important than ever — and thankfully, not an impossible task.
There are a variety of different face-coverings to choose from, including lightweight and disposable surgical masks, N95 respirator masks that filter out both large and small particles and convenient cloth face-coverings, which can include a simple scarf or bandanna.
The most important thing to remember is that, when worn properly, all of these options work to trap potentially harmful droplets that are released when you talk, cough or sneeze. But each has its own benefits.
For example, surgical face-coverings tend to be less heavy or bulky compared to cotton or other types of cloth and thus better for wearing over long periods such as a flight while cloth masks can be properly cleaned and therefore reused.
There’s no shortage of places where travelers can purchase face-coverings, from their local drug store to Amazon.com and even personal protective equipment (PPE) vending machines popping up in airports across the country. Travelers can even make their own masks at home as the CDC has published a helpful tutorial for those seeking a quick and affordable option.
With face-coverings becoming the new normal, many popular brands are even selling fashionable masks that allow wearers to showcase their favorite colors and patterns, share positive messages and even represent their favorite sports teams.
Regardless of which you choose, once you have your face-covering it’s imperative that you wear it correctly, covering up both your nose and mouth securely so droplets aren’t escaping around the top, bottom or sides. If your mask is reusable, you can put it into a sealed bag until you’re able to wash it again.
The Mayo Clinic recommends starting slow by wearing your face-coverings around the house or on short walks outside so that you can get more comfortable, especially if you’re preparing for a long-haul flight or an extended layover spent inside of the airport.
Unless outdoors and away from other people who aren’t members of your household or in a private space such as a hotel room or a rental car, you should be sure to wear your it to ensure you’re doing your part to protect your fellow travelers and slow the spread.
Face shields offer more protection than a mask.
Face shields are a physical barrier that can provide travelers an extra layer of protection, according to Nahid Bhadelia, the medical director of the Special Pathogens Unit at the Boston University School of Medicine.
“I’m glad to see that a lot of airlines have mandated the use of masks, and the use of face shields is even better,” Bhadelia said. “The face shield is great if someone is sitting next to you and expelling on you,” she said. Unlike a mask, a shield can prevent harmful respiratory droplets from getting into your eyes, too.
Wearing a shield “could help to even make it easier for you to protect your mucous membranes,” said Christopher Sulmonte, the project administrator for the Johns Hopkins Biocontainment Unit. “In addition to protecting the eyes in general, it’s a great deterrent, actually, from touching your face because you kind of forget that it’s there.”
While there’s no guarantee a shield will protect travelers on planes, Eli Perencevich, an infectious-disease physician at the University of Iowa and the Iowa City Veterans Affairs Health Care System, says it’s smart for airline passengers to wear one along with a face-mask, because it provides the same coverage health-care workers rely on…
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