One of the best ways to stop the coronavirus (COVID-19) from spreading from person to person is to wear a face mask, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). But with so many types of face masks available, how do you choose the right one for you?
For most members of the public, an FFP2 mask, or "face filtering piece" mask, is the safest and most convenient choice. Here's what you need to know.
What's So Great About FFP2 Masks?
FFP2 masks are a type of respirator mask. Respirator masks filter the air that you breathe in. There are three broad categories of respirator masks: FFP1, FFP2, and FFP3. Only healthcare workers in high-risk areas need FFP3 masks. For everyone else, FFP2s offer the right level of protection against COVID-19.
So, what is an FFP2 mask?
Basically, they're the European equivalent of US N95 masks. They filter out around 94 per cent of airborne particles. This reduces your risk of picking up COVID-19 if it's in the air around you. They are comfortable to wear, and, unless they get dirty, you can reuse them.
Key features of an FFP2 mask include:
- Soft nose pad to help you breathe comfortably
- Latex-free ear loops to minimise irritation
- Sturdy nose clips to ensure a secure fit against your face
- Multi-layered protection
FFP2 masks fold flat, too, so they're easy to carry around when you head to work or the supermarket. But why invest in FFP2 masks when you can make your own cloth covering at home? Let's take a look.
Are Trendy Face Masks Just As Effective As FFP2 Masks?
In short, no! Sure, cloth face masks look trendy. They come in all sorts of cool prints and bright colours, and they're becoming the newest fashion accessory. However, looks are deceiving. These masks offer virtually no protectionagainst COVID-19. Here's why.
Cloth doesn't filter the air you breathe in or out. It's very easy for small particles, including viruses and bacteria, to get through the cloth material and infect you.
Although countries around the world are encouraging people to wear face coverings when social distancing isn't possible, such as on public transport, there's no evidence that they actually protect the wearer from catching the virus.
So, when can fashionable masks be useful? Well, they're best reserved for when you are coughing or sneezing. There's limited evidence that cloth masks "shield" those around you from inhaling the largest droplets so they won't be exposed to the full airborne viral load.
Experts are also worried that trendy face coverings give everyone a false sense of security. You should still practise social distancing and stay home if you're sick. Don't let a cute face mask trick you into thinking that you won't spread the virus!
The bottom line? Sure, you can stock up on cloth face masks that look pretty, but you're best investing in FFP2/N95 masks that are scientifically proven to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
How Do I Use My FFP2 Mask?
FFP2 masks are really simple to use. Here's how to safely put them on and take them off.
- Wash or sanitise your hands before handling the mask – keeping your hands clean is still the best way to limit the spread of COVID-19.
- Hold the mask and place it over your nose and mouth.
- Pull the ear loops over your ears.
- Adjust the mask to ensure a comfortable fit.
- Mould the nose strip around your nose so you can breathe freely.
- Take the mask off by pulling down the ear loops.
- Dispose of the mask safely.
- Wash your hands again.
For your safety, you shouldn't wear the mask around your neck. This contaminates the mask and reduces its effectiveness.
FFP2 masks help to stop the spread of COVID-19, but only if you put them on – and take them off – with clean hands. With Your Sanitiser, you can quickly disinfect your hands while you're out and about, keeping your mask sterile and your hands coronavirus-free. Find out more about Your Sanitiser and buy your own bottle here.