The Masked Momma Returns
Mask on, Mask off
Recommendations and executive orders are rapidly changing these days and it leaves us feeling confused, anxious, frustrated, and exhausted as we try to navigate whether we should be masks on or masks off! Mask on or mask off and what masks work? Before I embark on a likely unpopular post let me make a few things clear. I am a law abiding citizens, and if orders are in place to mask up then so be it. Laws and orders are for the greater good of the people, and following them in masses brings greater peace, order, safety and productivity. This does not mean we cannot protest or voice our opinions, but to our best ability we should abide by the laws of our land.
Now, I will also choose to do what is necessary to support my local economy and businesses. These businesses are run by people like you and me who work very hard, are scared they will lose their dream and their income, and are experiencing stress that they have likely never experienced. There was no PLAN C - Pandemic for most of us.
THE VAST MAJORITY OF MASK WEARERS ARE DOING NOTHING TO REDUCE THE SPREAD OF ANY VIRUS.
Now that I have that out of the way, may I present a few facts and recommendations, hoping to dispel some myths, reduce angry outbursts, and improve understanding and empathy?
I wear a mask every day, and am a front line provider intubating patients for surgery; so when I say I have done my research, I HAVE DONE MY RESEARCH. In order to be effective, per research and entities such as OSHA, masks must be of the appropriate material for the intention, have the appropriate fit, and actually be utilized and worn properly. Otherwise, we might as well leave them at home (except for the mandate). Don't worry, read on for some solutions that will save us, and links for your own leisurely reading.
To properly mask on discover WHAT MASKS WORK.
- Cloth "masks" or face coverings.
- Do little except to block very large particulate (from sneezes or coughing)
- Do NOT filter air or airborne particles or smaller particulates from sneezing, coughing, talking, yelling, etc...
- Applies both towards keeping particles off of wearer or keeping the wearer's particles to him/herself.
- Touching of cloth barrier would still transfer particulates.
- Cloth barriers will harbor viruses and bacteria and can grow its own cultures if not properly washed and frequently.
- CAN cause distress or difficulty breathing for those with anxiety disorders, claustrophobia, or respiratory disorders such as asthma (especially of soiled or not fitted properly, or created with fabric that does not breathe properly.
- If you use cloth/reusable masks:
- Wash daily
- Spray frequently with a sanitizer such as Thieves or Bronner's.
- Use a cloth that has a built in filter or is made of fabric proven to filter particulates. I purchased a few Norwex masks to keep on hand, and they have show to block 60-80% of particulates to 0.1 microns coming and going to and from the wearer due to a silver lined baclock system.
- Do not touch your mask, and if you do spray or wash your hands.
- Remove your mask by looping your finger through the strap around your ear and pulling it down (not touching the actual cloth mask).
- Place it in a sink or hamper or bag so as not to contaminate other surfaces.
- Have a system or cross contamination is very high.
- SEE MY IG AND FB STORIES FOR EXAMPLES OF HOW NOT TO WEAR A MASK AND HOW TO REMOVE ONE.
- MEDICAL MASKS
- Designed to protect the wearer and those nearby from large DROPLET.
- NOT all masks that look like medical masks are actually made of materials to protect from droplet. Often you can tell by how well a drop of water permeates or soils the mask.
- Only work when properly worn over nose and under chin and are tight enough not to gap on sides.
- Do not protect from airborn and smaller microns.
- Are not reusable.
- Use same techniques mentioned above for avoidance of contamination.
- N95 MASKS
- Designed to protect the wearer from airborne pollutants by filtering 95% of the particulates (used in medicine and construction to keep out contaminated smoke and dust)
- Does not necessarily prevent the wearer from spreading contaminants as it allows for exhalation
- Are often coated with chemicals or utilize a fiberglass or PVC types material which can make respiration more difficult.
- Can cause skin irritations, airway irritations, and anxiety.
- Only work if properly fitted and SEALED around airways, and require fit testing. Some anatomies cannot get a good seal with several styles available.
Now that you are educated take a deep breath! I hope that you will utilize this information to be more empathetic towards those you see NOT wearing a mask, educate your friends and family, and USE PROPER SOCIAL DISTANCING MEASURES. Whether you are a mask on or mask off person, you can still be kind, educate others, and utilize proper techniques to keep you and yours safe during these times. Revisit my article in the hub outlining proper techniques to stay healthy and well (immune support, social distancing, no face touching, proper hand washing and sanitizing).
The GOOD NEWS is that these techniques are far more effective than most mask wearing anyway. So keep it up! Don't have parties yet. Don't have large non-family gatherings. Don't travel to visit friends and family. DO practice good techniques mentioned above, get those projects done, have fun at home, have proper distance gatherings such as back yard picnics with one other family, enjoy the extra family time, get outside!
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NEXT WEEK: launches a few weeks of men's health. Don't miss out! We will be talking focus, hormones, libido, fitness, and more.
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In love and health,
Amber N Osborne, CRNA, APRN, MSN
A promise from me:
Our bodies will have a successful immune response when exposed if we create the right environment and give it the right tools!
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