Face Masks: When to Wear & How to Use

At Singing River, your health and safety are our top priorities. Learn when to wear and how to use face masks properly to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

We are strong, but not invincible.

The most effective protections include washing your hands frequently with soap and water, wearing a mask, practicing physical distancing, and vaccination.

Should I wear a face mask for coronavirus (COVID-19) protection?

Yes, if you are in a public place where you will encounter other people, or in a medical care facility, you should wear a mask.

How do I properly wear a face mask?

Your mask should cover your face from the bridge of your nose to under your chin. It should be loose-fitting but still secure enough to stay in place. Make sure you can talk with your mask on and that it does not irritate you, so you are not tempted to touch it or pull it out of place, which could put you at risk for touching your face and limit its effectiveness.

Your cloth face covering should:

  • Reach above the nose, below the chin, and completely cover the mouth and nostrils.
  • Fit snugly against the sides of the face.
  • Be made of multiple layers of fabric that you can still breathe through.
  • Be able to be laundered and machine dried without damaging the material or shape.

Do not buy surgical masks to use as a face covering. Those are intended for healthcare workers and first responders.

Many items you may already have in your home can be used to create face coverings. Try creating a cloth face-covering using bandanas, ski masks, washable napkins, or dish towels.

How many face masks do I need?

It’s a good idea to have at least two. This way, you will have a fresh mask if one is in the wash.

Consider your schedule and your lifestyle. Ideally, you’re staying at home most of the time. But you will want a clean mask whenever you go someplace where maintaining consistent physical distancing (at least 6 feet away from others) might be a challenge, including:

  • A trip to the grocery store.
  • A ride on public transportation.
  • A visit to your doctor.
  • Close interactions with others.
  • Any location, indoors or out, if crowded.

When is it safe to take my mask off?

Keep your mask on until you have finished your trip, errand, or work shift. You can remove it outside, once you are away from others, or in your car on your way home.

Do not forget to bring your mask inside to be cleaned. If you wait to take your mask off until you have returned home, it may be easier to put it directly into the laundry.

Click here to learn: How to Clean & Care for Face Masks

What is the best way to take off a face mask?

  1. Wash your hands or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
  2. Don’t touch the front of the mask or your face.
  3. Carefully remove your mask by grasping the ear loops or untying the ties. For masks with a pair of ties, unfasten the bottom ones first, then the top ones.
  4. If your mask has filters, remove them and throw them away. Fold the mask and put it directly into the laundry or into a disposable or washable bag for laundering.
  5. Clean your hands again.

Can a face mask prevent coronavirus (COVID-19) from spreading?

Face masks help prevent the spread of COVID-19 because it’s possible to have coronavirus without showing symptoms, it is best to wear a face-covering even if you think you are healthy.

A mask helps contain small droplets that come out of your mouth and/or nose when you talk, sneeze, or cough. If you have COVID-19 and are not showing symptoms, a face mask reduces your chance of spreading the infection to others. If you are healthy, a mask may protect you from larger droplets from people around you.

Different levels of masks are appropriate for different situations and needs. At Singing River Health System, we currently require everyone entering our facilities to wear a mask, with the exception of children under 2.

Masks for COVID-19 Patients and their Caregivers

In order to protect from the spread of droplets, a surgical or cloth mask should be worn in a home setting by those with COVID-19 when they are around others. If the person who is ill is unable to wear a mask, their caregiver should wear one. Patients being treated in hospital settings will follow hospital guidelines.