This article was published on June 2nd, 2020
With COVID-19 a reality worldwide, wearing masks in public is likely to be a fact of life for several months more, and possibly years. With that news in mind, it is important to be selfless during this time and protect both those you love and strangers that you interact with on a day to day basis. To prevent the COVID-19 from spreading further and to flatten the curve, HomoCulture breaks down the etiquette of masks, from how to properly wear them to making your own, and supporting local businesses make them.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization, and health officers around the world recommend the general public wear cloth face masks when out in public. Due to the shortage of medical masks, which are reserved for the medical, healthcare, and first responders community, there has been an increased demand to understand all the guidelines on what constitutes a proper face mask and how to make them at home.
How to Properly Wear a Mask
The first rule of wearing a mask should be common sense but it is probably one of the most common faux pas of mask etiquette – the mask must be worn so it entirely covers both your mouth and nose. It should be worn snugly all the way around in order to protect others, especially if you have a cough or cold, or are sneezing. Wearing a mask around your neck, or not covering your nose, or removing it to speak defeats the entire purpose of the safety measure.
Masks should also be worn when you are speaking as this is one way in which COVID-19 can be spread through moist particles. When you are outside your home and wearing a mask, the rule of thumb is to still stay at least six feet away from other people. Wearing a mask minimizes the risk of transmitting the virus or other respiratory illnesses, but it does not eliminate it entirely.
When you get home, pay attention on how you go about taking off your mask. To remove it, do not to touch the front of the mask as it is could be contaminated. Take it off by first using the straps around your ears and then placing it directly in the washing machine or a bucket of hot soapy water until you clean it and dry it for the next use. Treat the mask as if it is infected from exposure and prevent the spread of the infection. And last but certainly not least, wash your hand thoroughly after your mask has been removed.
Wearing a mask can also help reduce the consumption of air pollution and dust.
Support Local Businesses Creating Masks
The CDC recommends using cotton fabric to create your own homemade masks; quilters’ cotton is one of the best types of material to use. You can use an old t-shirt, bandana, or scrap fabric to make a face mask, and there are many tutorials available online that can take you step-by-step in the process.
Of course, you can make your own mask if you have the tools, or you support LGBTQ businesses who have created their own new mask product line-ups. There are many great companies now making amazing colorful and creative masks and selling them online. There are great examples of masks that have messages or designs that speak to our community and make a fashion statement simultaneously. There are even some rumblings that the hanky code of yesteryear could be making a comeback of sorts through mask wear, and if this encourages more people to wear masks to protect communities at large, then we are all for it.
At the end of the day, we are responsible for our own behavior, and wearing a mask in public is one of the easiest ways to show support for flattening the curve of COVID-19 and protecting the world we live in. Plus, make it fashion!