These days, there is nothing odd about going outside and see men and women of all ages wearing different types of masks and face coverings. In fact, people not wearing masks are probably more likely to get looks from passersby than those who are wearing face coverings.
Of course, this fact is due to the novel coronavirus, which has spread across the globe as a pandemic since first popping up in China last year. We are only a few months into this pandemic in most parts of the world, and it is undeniably hard to know when this pandemic will come to an end.
Chances are good, we will be dealing with this for many more months indeed. That fact can be made even more difficult due to masks sometimes being hard to come across. Great masks that protect both the person wearing them as well as the people around them are still fairly scarce despite the fact that there has been a real attempt to pick up production and put an end to price gouging.
It is also often hard to really know how much the mask that you are wearing is really doing to help curb the spread of the highly contagious COVID-19. Sadly, some people have decided to horde masks, making it even harder for people to get the protection that they need.
In fact, F.B.I. agents seized a massive stockpile of masks and gloves (195,000 N95 masks, 130,000 surgical masks and 600.000 medical-grade gloves, to be exact), back in April. But just because some people are going crazy and trying to hoard all these potentially life-saving masks for themselves doesn’t mean that there is no way to get your hands on some of the best and most productive masks that are currently on the market.
It is important to know everything there is that you can know about the different kinds of surgical masks and respirators available on the market. For that reason, here is a simple guide that will help you make up your mind about which mask or masks you think will be the best for you and your family.
Before we do that, however, let’s break down some simple truths about when you should or should not be wearing a surgical mask.
When to wear a surgical mask
Sadly, the wearing of masks in the United States has become a progressively political issue as the coronavirus just continued to infect millions and claim hundreds of thousands of lives worldwide. You might get wrapped up in the political debate regarding the wearing of masks so before we go over which types of masks are most useful for you; it seems like a good idea to quickly breakdown when it is a wise idea to wear a protective mask.
Based on what medical professionals all over the world they said about the spread COVID-19 pandemic, it seems abundantly clear that wearing a mask whenever possible in public is the best way to go this is especially true regarding COVID-19 because of the fact that many who have tested positive for the virus show no symptoms while they are contagious. This means that you may have the virus and be spreading it to other people without ever knowing. The truth is that wearing a mask is just as much about the safety of the people around you as it is about your own personal safety. Studies show that transmission of the virus reduces by huge degrees if one person who has the virus is wearing a mask, you’re another person who is not yet infected who is either wearing a mask or not wearing a mask.
With that being said, if you either have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or have recently travelled to a high-risk area, you should constantly be wearing a mask whenever you leave the house. Ideally, you are not leaving the house at all and are following the recommended 14-day quarantine in order to reduce the risk of spread.
It is crucially important to understand that COVID-19 can be transmitted both during its incubation period and by asymptomatic carriers. Hence, you should wear a mask if you believe that you have been expose to the disease in any way even if you are not showing any active symptoms.
How to get surgical masks
Earlier in the pandemic, it was difficult to find masks of any kind due to widespread panic. As people have become more comfortable with living amidst a pandemic, however, online stores and brick and mortar locations have begun to restock and sell masks again.
While they are possible to purchase now, there is no doubt that not all masks are created equal. Of course, most people now know that the most protective mask is known and the n95 mask. Did you know, though, there are many different kinds of n95 masks?
In order to give you a better idea of what kinds of mask you should be considering buying, let’s break down the basics on the best masks on the market today.
Medical face mask buying guide
There is a quick list of things that you will want to look for when you are deciding what surgical mask to buy. Here are the major factors that you should consider:
- Type – If you are not showing symptoms, then a more simple mask is probably okay to go with. However, if you are showing symptoms of COVID-19 or are otherwise worried that you may have been exposed, you will want to purchase a more protective n95 respirator.
- Size – If the mask does not fit your face properly, you will not be fully protected or protecting others around you.
- Longevity – Different masks have different usable lifespans and you should know when to throw away a mask to avoid a dangerous accumulation of bacteria.
- Usability – Make sure that you either purchase a mask that is easy to use, or know exactly how to correctly wear a mask that has more intensive wearing guidelines.
- Source – You will want to be confident that you are buying well-known brand masks to avoid counterfeits or knock-offs that will absolutely not protect you in the same way.
- Maintenance – Make sure to wash your hands before you are touching or putting on the mask. If you are curious how to wear it correctly, consult a medical professional.
Top masks to purchase
Here are some of the top masks that you can purchase that have been proven to be most effective when it comes to stopping to spread of COVID-19.
- 3M 8511 N95 Respirator
More than any other brand on the market, 3M has emerged as the producers of the most trusted surgical masks and respirators. The 3M 8511 N95 Respirator is considered the gold standard when it comes to everyday efficiency and prementioned. In fact its Cool Flow valve mechanism that delivers 95% filtration efficiency against certain non-oil-based particles and aerosols.
- Curad Antiviral Face Mask
This is arguably the easiest medical mask to get your hands on and while it does not stop the spread at the same efficiency as the aforementioned N95, it does hold antiviral properties. While this mask has not been seen to 100 percent stop the spread of COVID-19, it is absolutely a good everyday mask when you are not showing symptoms but want to take extra precautions when headed out to walk the dog or to grab your weekly groceries.
- 3M 8210 N95 Particulate Respirator
This is another great N95 mask that would be readily available on the market were it not for a global pandemic. While it may be harder to get your hands on these masks today, you can certainly look as once you’ve found them, you’ll be in good shape for as long as the pandemic continues on.
- Coxeer Dust Mask
If you are looking for something that is comfortable and breathable – say for an afternoon run or day out on your favorite hiking trail – the Coxeer Dust Mask is a good alternative. On top of that, this mask looks pretty dang cool! Just remember, this one isn’t considered to be quite as effective as stopping the spread of COVID-19 compared to the most effective masks out there.
- DuraMask Double Strap Nuisance Mask
This FDA-approved mask is both lightweight and disposable and features a design that contours to the face and a double-strap for an extra tight fit. If you guy a box, you’re going to get 50 total masks. However, you may find that you use them up fast than you expected due to this mask’s highly disposable nature.
- 3M 1860 N95 Medical Mask
This is the most basic N95 mask and does not come with the exhalation vent, but it is still quite protective when it comes to the spread of COVID-19. Just make sure that the masks were made in the last three years, as they have a fairly short shelf life and become essentially useless after that time.