Face masks help protect you and others from getting sick with COVID-19 and are critical to slowing the spread of the virus. Explore below to learn why face masks are important and to discover creative ways to help you and your kids get used to this protective measure.
I have had store employees tell me my child needs to wear a face mask, but my child is less than 2 years old. What do I do?
The CDC states that masks are not recommended for children under the age of 2 years. If someone asks you to place a mask on someone younger than 2, inform them that the child is too young for a mask. Small children cannot wear a mask safely because it's a choking and suffocation hazard. Masks on children less than 2 years of age are not safe and should not be used under any circumstances.
My child has special needs. Do they need to wear a mask?
There are some disorders in which masking is not safe (e.g. the child is physically unable to remove the mask independently), and others in which wearing a mask may be more difficult, such as with sensory processing disorders and autism. Talk to your pediatrician about your child with special needs and whether wearing a mask is recommended or if alternative measures should be taken. If it is safe and does not cause extreme distress, talk about it with your child and try it. This may require multiple attempts and may never be feasible or sustainable for some children.
What health conditions exclude you from wearing a mask?
According to the CDC, “anyone who has trouble breathing” or “anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated, or is otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.”
How can I help my child keep a mask on their face if it keeps falling off?
Find a mask that secures behind the head instead of around the ears. Though gaiter style masks may also help keep faces covered, the CDC doesn’t currently recommend gaiter style masks as it is unclear if they are effective.
How do I keep my child from losing his/her mask?
Try clipping the mask to the child’s shirt. No matter what you do, masks are bound to be lost, so be sure to have a few spares handy. Though gaiter style masks are less likely to be lost, the CDC doesn’t currently recommend gaiter style masks as it is unclear if they are effective.
What should I say to people that aren’t wearing masks in public?
Recognize that you may not know the reason a person isn’t wearing a face mask and that this reason may be valid. In either case, it is appropriate to politely request that a person maintain adequate distance and to explain your concerns. Read this article by Northeastern University for more suggestions.
If my child goes back to school and is required to wear a mask all day, is it harmful?
Studies have shown that oxygen levels do not decrease when wearing a mask, and this is true for children as well. Masks are safe to be worn all day. Masks should always be washed between school days.
Do masks increase risk of getting other infections?
There is no evidence indicating that wearing a mask increases the risk of developing pneumonia or other lung infections. Masks should be washed between uses and when visibly soiled.
Are there situations in which it is unsafe to wear a mask?
Yes, such as activities in which the mask may get wet or during high-intensity exercise. (See the full article here.) In these scenarios, adaptations or alternative activities should be considered, especially if social distancing is not possible.
Are face masks even effective in slowing the spread of COVID-19?
Yes. A number of robust studies point to the effectiveness of face masks in curbing the spread of COVID-19.
Do face masks protect the wearer or only those around the wearer?
The purpose of face coverings in the community setting is primarily to prevent spread from the wearer to others. That said, face masks do provide some protection against contracting the virus and likely decrease the viral load when it is transmitted.
Are there types of cloth face masks that are more effective than others?
For cloth masks, it is important to have a double layer of breathable fabric that is able to cover your mouth and nose comfortably. Bandanas do not work well because they are open on the bottom and neck gaiters tend to be too thin.
Wearing a mask makes breathing more difficult, could I use one with an exhalation vent to make it easier?
While wearing a mask can be an adjustment and feel cumbersome, studies have shown that oxygen levels do not decrease when wearing a mask. Masks with vents are not helpful in stopping the spread of the virus because they allow respiratory droplets to escape the mask and infect others. You can practice wearing a mask around the house to get used to breathing with one on.
Can I make my own mask?
Yes. Ensure that the material and method used is adequate to provide protection. See the videos and activities above for guidance or search online for DIY ideas.
Can I use a face shield instead of a mask?
No. Face shields are primarily used for eye protection and do not adequately prevent the spread of the virus to others. If wearing a face shield, you should also wear a mask.
How often do I need to wash my mask?
Wash your mask after each use and whenever it is visibly soiled.
Can I recycle my mask?
Disposable face masks should never be put into a recycling bin but should always make it to the waste bin. Cloth masks are reusable but should be washed between use.
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