Do you live in an area where wildfires are common? Do you want to protect yourself from the respiratory problems caused by wildfires? Do you also want to find a mask that can protect you from the COVID-19 virus?
The dry season poses a huge risk to areas where wildfires are likely to start. It gives residents in those areas yet another reason to be wary other than the coronavirus. Since both are harmful to the lungs and respiratory system, why not hit two birds with one stone?
Below is a guide on finding the best mask for wildfire smoke and the COVID-19 virus. Keep reading to learn more about how to find the best face mask that’ll protect you from both threats.
1. Why Wear Face Masks
Early this year, the coronavirus shook the world and forced it to a halt. Businesses had to close down and citizens went into self-isolation or lockdowns. Part of the economy plummeted while some industries found success in the pandemic.
Despite government measures, the virus continues to spread among the population. Until now, most people are still wary about what they do and touch when outside the home. One of the best preventative measures you keep you protected from the coronavirus is to wear a face mask.
Wearing face masks helps keep out particles in the air that carry the virus. There is a variety of face masks that you can find in the market today. Some people are also making DIY face masks at home to cut costs and to express their creativity.
How Wildfire Masks Protect You
Some face masks serve yet another important function. These protect you from inhaling smoke particles that can damage respiratory organs, too. A great example is the respirator mask used as protection against wildfire smoke. We’ll discuss this with the other types of masks below.
There are areas where the climate and environment create wildfires. If you live in an area where wildfires are present, you’re at risk of respiratory diseases.
California and Texas are the top states with the most extreme risk of wildfire damage. They both have large geographic sizes and large populations. The states also have fuels and terrain near populous areas where wildfires can start.
2. Types of Face Masks and Their Functions
Below, we will take a closer look at the various types of face masks that you can find on the market. We begin with the surgical mask. Surgical masks or medical masks are disposable, loose-fitting masks you can find in the local stores.
They protect the wearer from droplets and splashes that contain germs or viruses. Surgical masks often filter out large particles in the air. They protect others because they reduce the wearer’s oral and respiratory secretions.
Another type of mask is the N95 mask. This type offers more protection for the wearer and is a type of respirator mask. It filters out large and small particles that the wearer inhales.
The name of the makes comes from its function. The material of the N95 mask blocks out 95% of the tiny particles. Some N95 face masks have valves, which release unfiltered exhaled air from the wearer.
The next most common type is the cloth mask. These are often the types to be DIY masks. They trap the droplets that the wearer releases when talking, coughing, or sneezing. Tightly woven textiles like cotton or quilt are the ideal fabric for cloth masks.
3. Best Mask for Wildfire Smoke
Wildfire smoke is a mixture of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and other volatile compounds. The specific gases and particulate matter that make wildfire smoke vary. It depends on the fuels, weather, and distance from the fire.
If you live in or go to an area where wildfires are occurring, buy N95 masks. These respirator masks are the most accessible pieces of protection against wildfire smoke. It’s also easy to find places to buy N95 mask sets, especially in areas near wildfire sites.
Surgical and cloth masks will not help protect you against wildfire smoke inhalation. Note that you must wear an N95 mask the right way for it to function. Make sure the straps go above and below your ears.
It also has to seal your mouth and nose area. If your N95 mask feels too stuffy, look for one with a relief valve for easier breathing.
4. Best Mask for COVID-19
The wearing of a face mask for safety became a political issue in the US. However, a study proved the importance of wearing face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic. It says store-bought face masks, and those created from quilting fabric are effective.
The N95 mask is even more effective because it blocks tiny particles. Among all the masks we discussed, N95 remains the best. However, it has its downsides as well.
Because of the virus, N95 masks are now harder to find. If you live in an area where wildfires don’t often occur, it can be difficult to find places that sell N95 masks. Also, since N95 masks let out unfiltered exhaled air, it can spread the virus. The best ones are N95 masks without exhaust valves.
The next best coronavirus mask is a cloth mask. It’s easy to make and find. However, make sure that it has several layers of fabric rather than only one. You also need to make sure you use a cloth that has tight weavings.
The least safe of all the masks for COVID-19 is the surgical mask. The US Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved it for COVID-19 safety. It’s still a better alternative than walking in town without a face mask to protect yourself and others.
5. Things to Consider When Buying Face Masks
It’s not enough to buy COVID-19 and wildfire smoke masks. You also need to ensure their quality. Buy masks certified by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
You also want to make sure that you get masks that fit over your nose and under your chin. They need to seal around your mouth and nose area to provide protection. Otherwise, they’re useless on your face.
Remember, wearing masks is only one step to stay protected from COVID-19. Practice other safety measures like hand washing.
Stay Protected From Wildfire Smoke and COVID-19
That ends our guide on the masks you can use to ensure your safety against wildfire smoke and COVID-19. We hope that this guide on the best mask for wildfire smoke and the coronavirus serves you well.
But why stop here when there’s more to learn about the ongoing pandemic and other natural disasters? If you want to see more content like this, check out our other health guides.