How to Buy Face Masks for Coronavirus: A Beginner’s Guide
With the recent pandemic outbreak, there has been a lot of talk about face masks and other ways you can protect yourself from the coronavirus. But not everyone is well informed when it comes to masks and preventive measures.
In this article, we’ll break down everything you need to know on how to buy face masks.
Always remember: If you have problems with breathing, you should avoid using masks as they can make it hard to breathe, and especially avoid contact with other people. After wearing and using face masks, always wash your hands and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Let’s get right into it!
Types of Face Masks for Coronavirus
There are several types of face masks.
There is a big difference in the level of protection they offer, and so it’s important to consider what the purpose is and what level of protection you’re after.
Face masks come in three different types:
- Homemade cloth masks
- Surgical masks
- Respirators like the N95
1. Homemade Cloth Face Mask
If you are in need of protection while taking your dog for a walk or similar everyday activities, the homemade cloth mask will most likely suffice. Cloth masks are easy to make and offer a basic level of protection.
Keep in mind that this type of face mask is used only as an additional protection measure, which means that you will still need to respect social distancing and hygiene practices.
Wash it after every use, and avoid touching your nose, mouth, and eyes.
2. Surgical Face Mask
If you find yourself in need of a mask that will protect you in situations in which social distancing or hygiene practices maybe won’t be possible, you can consider finding a surgical mask.
Surgical masks the types of masks that you’ve likely seen in movies or TV shows. They’re the masks the doctors and surgeons are always weating.
They are loose-fitting, disposable masks. They cover the areas around your nose, mouth and chin.
Surgical masks are meant to protect the wearer against larger droplets, splashes and should also block out any bodily fluids transferred through coughs and sneezes.
Surgical masks are not 100% effective as they are loose-fitting and create gaps. Always respect precautionary measures when wearing one. .
3. N95 Respirator
The N95 respirator creates a tight seal around your nose, mouth, and chin.
It is designed for block out 95 % of small droplets and airborne particles that you encounter.
Some N95 respirators also come with a valve which plays an important role in lowering heat and humidity levels.
How to Buy Face Masks (The Steps)
Before ordering or shopping for a mask, you should follow these steps.
- Decide which type of face mask you need
- Locate a source
- Purchase or order
Shortage of N95 Face Masks
Due to the pandemic outbreak, there’s been a huge shortage of health supplies. Several problems have emerged as a result.
The first problem is the shortage itself.
The problem has become more complicated as manufacturers struggle to get their hands on materials needed to manufacture these respirators.
That is why experts are also trying to calm down the public and prevent the panic from spreading while at the same time trying to encourage the sparing of N95 respirators.
Instead of N95 respirators, they recommend using homemade masks or surgical masks and respecting social distancing and other preventive measures.
How to Buy N95 Masks
If you feel that you are in desperate need and decide to buy an N95 respirator, there are several ways you can do so. Due to the shortage we’ve previously mentioned, the chances of finding an N95 respirator in one of your local pharmacies are greatly decreased.
Instead, online retailers are often more reliable for purchasing N95 respirators.
Regardless of where you choose to buy, always ensure is that the mask you buy or order is NIOSH-approved and authentic.
Fake Mask: The Current Problem With the Supply Chain
The shortage of N95 respirators doesn’t represent the only problem.
Many scammers all over the world are trying to use this situation to their advantage. They’re manufacturing fake, unreliable masks. These masks are often very similar in appearance to real ones, so it can can be hard to spot these fakes.
This shortage made states and healthcare providers turn to secondary distributors for help, many of which have turned out to be fraudulent and unreliable.
The scam led to the collaboration of law enforcement, 3M, and other reliable manufacturers who are working together on preventing the sale of fake masks and N95 respirators.
How to Tell if Your Mask is Authentic
Spotting a fake mask can be hard due to the likeness of the fake masks to real ones.
Still, there are a few things you can keep an eye out for that expose the copycats.
First, check if your respirator is NIOSH-approved.
This includes an approval number inside or on the package, which you can verify on the CEL (NIOSH Certified Equipment List).
Additionally, if your mask is counterfeit, you’ll notice:
- There is no approval number on the headband or the respirator itself.
- There are no N95 designation markings or NIOSH markings.
- The mask has ear loops. NIOSH-approved respirators have headbands.
- NIOSH or other names misspelled.
- False claims. Commonly, fake masks have instructions claiming the respirator can be used by children. The N95 respirator is not designed to be used by children or people with facial hair.
- An unusual smell.
- A stuck or non-functioning exhalation valve.
Certain manufacturers are also not NIOSH-approved holders.
These sellers illegally use approval numbers to manufacture counterfeit respirators. Examples of these manufacturers include G & F Products, Maskin, Raxwell, Medicos and Yark.
How to Make Your Own Coronavirus Face Mask
If you decide to make your own coronavirus face mask, there are certain tips you might want to follow. Here are some basic requirements to keep in in mind for your mask:
- It should create a close but breathable fit around your nose, mouth, and chin.
- It should allow for steady breathing.
You should also make sure is that your homemade cloth mask can be laundered and dried for further use.
When making a cloth face mask, use several layers of fabric. Create small but well-measured ear loops or attach strings on both sides to ensure a proper fit for your face.
Your mask shouldn’t be too tight or too loose.
For more detailed, in-depth instructions see this this tutorial:
How to Donate N95 Face Masks
There are ways you can donate masks to those who are in need of them the most.
You shouldn’t just drop off your donations in your local hospital or health department yourself. Visiting a hospital during a time like this represents a risk for both you and the healthcare personnel (unless it’s an emergency).
Instead, call up your local hospital or health department. The healthcare personnel can advise where donations are needed the most and may arrange a pick-up.
Another thing you can do is visit GetUsPPE.org. It is a website created by healthcare workers and volunteers. It has requests for items that are needed the most. Our favorite part is that it can be searched by region or state. If you aren’t able to drop off donations yourself, you can request to be contacted by a local volunteer for a pick-up.
For more information, see this article:
N95 Masks vs. KN95 Masks: What’s the Difference?
The KN95 respirator is very similar to the N95 respirator.
It is a Chinese version of the N95 respirator, having pretty much the same specifications. Like the N95 mask, the KN95 successful blocks out of 95% of airborne particles.
The main difference between these respirators is that the KN95 originates from China. The KN95 respirator has been only recently approved by the FDA as an equivalent to the N95 respirator, and has been listed by the CDC as well.
A Final Word from Wellness Nova
The fight against the coronavirus is a fight in which we all must take part in order to win.
To protect ourselves and our loved ones, we must follow the rules and advice given by experts.
Social distancing and an imposed quarantine can be tough on everyone, but only by following these rules and by protecting ourselves, can we protect others as well and help suppress the pandemic.
Decide what type of face mask you need, locate a source, then order or purchase.
Hopefully this article gave you the necessary info for how to buy face masks. For more information, see these websites: