Types of Masks
How do you protect yourself from Covid-19?
If you Google this question, you'll get a billion answers--not necessarily clear ones.
Relax. It's not rocket science.
Below is a simple breakdown of four standard Professional Protective Equipment (PPE) products.
KN95 Face Mask
Some people believe that since N95 face masks are only available to healthcare professionals, then KN95 masks must be inferior. This is not true.
N95 and KN95 respiratory face masks provide the same level of protection. N95 is a code for US standards for respirator masks. KN95 is the Chinese code. Simple as that.
Both masks are rated to stop 95% of tiny particles, down to 0.3 microns. Both achieve a close facial fit; the edges form a seal around the nose and mouth.
The good news is that KN95 masks are available to consumers.
Important note: When purchasing KN95 masks, they must be by FDA registered manufacturer and the test reports must be verified showing that it filters a minimum of 95% of particles.
For a deeper dive into the specific differences between KN95 and N95 face masks, here's a good article.
3-Ply Face Mask
As the name suggests, this surgical mask has three layers. The outer layer repels various body fluids, such as blood; the middle layer protects from pathogens; and the inner layer absorbs sweat, moisture from the air.
Unlike the KN95 masks, 3-ply masks don't form a tight seal over the mouth and nose. So there's a chance for particles to enter between those gaps. Nevertheless, if properly worn, a 3-ply mask will provide you with an adequate level of protection.
A face shield offers certain advantages over a face mask. First, it covers a large surface area of your face and upper neck, close to 180 degrees.
Your eyes are a natural access point for viruses and bacteria. A face shield protects your eyes from the front and sides.
Not touching your face is easier said than done, even in today's environment. It's a normal human habit. A face shield protects you--from yourself.
The plastic visor is super easy to clean with soap and water or disinfectant.
Now, can you wear a face shield instead of a face mask?
Yes, but it's not the optimal method. There's a narrow space between the visor and your skin. It's highly unlikely but not impossible for a virus to enter through that gap.
For the ultimate level of protection, wear a face shield and a face mask. Frankly, the only thing beyond that would be a hazmat suit.
Old west cowboys and bank robbers were ahead of their time.
We'll start by saying that a bandana is not a PPE. It's, well, just a bandana. While a cloth bandana is not the equivalent of a face mask, it still provides an adequate level of protection.
One huge plus is that Bandanas are reusable and easy to clean and dry.
Some people find medical masks irritating and uncomfortable for all-day use. Bandanas tend to be more comfortable on the skin. In that case, you can always up the level of protection by wearing a face shield with your bandana.
What's the difference between a bandana and a homemade face mask?
Nothing really, except sewing together a face mask isn't as simple as it looks on Youtube. If you have nothing better to do with your time, go for it. Otherwise, it takes a few seconds to put on a bandana--and works just as well.
There to have it. Three types of PPE products (plus bandana) that will help keep you safe.
From our family to yours,
Stay safe. Stay healthy. Be Ready.