Coronavirus: how to put your protective face mask on and how to take it off

Published by Caroline J. · Published on 18 May 2020 at 08h41
In order to curb the coronavirus epidemic, protective facemasks are more and more used by French. FFP2 masks, surgical masks or even cloth masks…. Each and everyone is trying to protect themselves against the virus. But do you know how to properly wear your mask? Here are the right gestures and mistakes you don’t want to make.

Since the health crisis has broke out in the country, wearing a facemask is subject to debate. If it was first not said to be necessary at the beginning, by the weeks, the French government has changed its mind, “urging” people to wear all type of facemask and even making it mandatory in public transportation and at school for junior high schoolers and high schoolers.

This April 3, the Academy of Medicine said that even wearing a “non-surgical” mask, that is to say one you made yourself, should be generalized, and even made compulsory for necessary trips during confinement.

As of today, many French people don’t leave their houses without their protective facemasks they often did themselves. While Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo said 2 million cloth masks will be given for free by mid-May to all Parisians, here are the right gestures to make sure your mask is properly set. For the record, a mask used wrongly can be useless and even dangerous.

As said on the WHO’s website, you must wash your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water before even touching a mask. Then, make sure the bottom is down and the top part of the mask is up. On a surgical mask, a metal wire, to pinch the nose, indicates where the top part is. Note that these surgical masks are colored, color should be on the outside.

Once this step is done, how to properly place your mask on your face? As the government’s website reads, you must handle the mask by the elastics. Place them behind your ears and place the mask to entirely cover your nose and chin. And don’t forget to pinch the metal wire on your nose. If you wear glasses, make sure you have no fog on them. If you do, adjust your mask.

Once on your face, you must not touch your mask, or you take the risk of contaminating it.

Last but not least, how to remove it risk-free? Once again, don’t forget to wash your hands to disinfect them before and grab the mask by the elastics without touching the front part of the mask. Remove it and discard the mask in a closed bin.

For the record, a surgical mask should be changed every 4 hours and they are single-use masks. If your mask gets damp, change it quickly. For reusable cloth facemask, here’s how to clean and disinfect them properly.

The government  reminds you the gestures and mistakes you don’t want to make with your mask:

  • Wear a mask that would not cover your nose;
  • Wear a mask that would not cover your chin;
  • Touch your mask once on your face;
  • Wear your mask around your neck, for instance, to talk to other people;
  • Reuse your mask after you removed it.

Practical information