Over the last week, I’ve read a number of articles recommending that we start double masking to increase the level of coverage we’re getting. Even Dr. Fauci says that it’s just “common sense.” And let’s just say, when Fauci talks, I listen.
Then this morning, I combed through this article in the Washington Post that recommended we all start wearing N95 masks, and so I decided to do a quick post to help parents figure out what sort of masks their family should be wearing and when.
The safest mask options: N95, KF94, and then, KN95 masks
According to the Washington Post article above, the safest mask option, and one you should be wearing inside, is the N95.Thankfully, they’re a bit easier to find than they were last year, but they are still pretty expensive, especially considering they’re disposable. But if you work inside or have kids in school, these are your safest standalone mask.
Two other safe options, which are easier and slightly more affordable than the N95 masks (linked up the pouch version, as well) are the KF94 and the KN95 masks. To be clear, these are not as effective as the N95 but they are a close second. And there’s a caveat with Chinese-made KN95 masks though, because apparently due to the need for emergency supplies, they may not meet standards unless they have NIOSH certification.
None of these masks will be effective, however, unless you wear them properly. A simple test is to just make sure there’s no air coming out of the side or top of your mask. It also should not move if you move your head around.
The next safest mask option: Surgical mask with a cloth mask on top
If you can’t find an N95 or similar, and are going to be inside for a longer period of time, a safe option is to double up, with a simple surgical mask and then a cloth mask on top. You can also wear a KN95 along with a cloth mask. Since many of us have been wearing a cloth mask, adding a surgical mask under it isn’t a big change. It’s just important that they fit well, and that you’re disposing (and washing) after use. (Pro tip: My kids have worn a ton of masks. While pricey, the Under Armor face masks have had the most longevity with them, and are great for sports).
From everything I’ve read, you don’t necessarily need to double up if you’re outside, like taking a walk or jog in the park. If you’re going to be around a bunch of people outside, it can’t hurt to double up. I’ve been double masking for weeks now, and I don’t feel any difference than when I was wearing just one.