With three-digit temperatures in some parts of Arizona, many people are asking if they really need to wear a mask when in public. While it might be uncomfortable, wearing a cloth mask continues to be one of the best ways to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. One of the main reasons to wear a mask is that some people who are infected might not have any symptoms and wearing protects those around you.
But what is the best way to wear a face mask? Should it cover my nose, mouth and chin? When it’s hot out, it’s a bit more comfortable to only cover the mouth and leave the nose exposed. Is this okay? And when can it be removed? Getting into a hot car can make it hard to breathe, even more so with a mask. Should you wait until you get home to take off the face mask? Then, there’s the best way to take off the mask. What part of the mask should I avoid touching? How often should it be washed (if not disposable)?
To help answer some of the questions related to the proper use of face masks, AHCCCS shares tips from The Center for Disease Control (CDC) on how to safely wear and take off a cloth face covering.
HOW TO PUT ON A FACE MASK
Wash your hands before putting on your face mask
Put it over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin
Try to fit it snugly against the sides of your face
Make sure you can breathe easily
Do not place a mask on a child younger than 2 years old
HOW TO WEAR A FACE MASK
Wear a face mask to help protect others in case you’re infected but don’t have symptoms
Keep the mask on your face the entire time you’re in public
Don’t put the mask around your neck or up on your forehead
Don’t touch the face mask, and, if you do, clean your hands
HOW TO TAKE OFF A FACE MASK
Wait until you get home to take off your face mask
Untie the strings behind your head or stretch the ear loops
Handle only by the ear loops or ties
Fold outside corners together
Place face mask in the washing machine
Wash the mask after each use or dispose
Wash your hands with soap and water
FOLLOW EVERYDAY HEALTHY HABITS
Stay at least 6 feet away from others
Avoid contact with people who are sick
Wash your hands often, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds each time
Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available
ISOLATE IF YOU HAVE SYMPTOMS OR ARE INFECTED
If you have mild symptoms or know you’re infected, follow your doctor’s advice around isolation and avoid exposing others. If you can’t avoid going out (e.g., going to the doctor), wear a mask to protect others.
The COVID-19 virus has many in Arizona and around the world separating themselves from community like they haven’t before. Social distancing is recommended, including keeping at least 3 feet between you and anyone else in a public space. While staying at home or keeping a safe distance between others is the best advice, it may be hard on our emotional health.
While much of what is happening may leave you feeling anxious or like you do not have control, there are steps you can take to feel empowered and mentally healthy. We are not helpless: we can choose our response.
1. Make a list of what is in your control, and what isn’t. Focus on what you can control, like being diligent about hand washing, getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and social distancing.
2. Think about what makes you feel safe. How can you feel safe at home? Maybe it is reading on the couch under a weighted blanket, or holding a pet. Perhaps it is watching a funny movie or playing a game online. Take steps to do the tasks now that give you a sense of security.
3. Get fresh air. Just because you are at home doesn’t mean you can’t take a long walk. There is a lot of research to show fresh air, sunshine and Vitamin D will help boost your mood. Physical health also helps mental health.
4. Try to only think about today. Worrying about tomorrow or the distant future can be daunting. Instead, focus on what is before you. Think of your senses. What is blooming outside in your neighborhood? Can you hear the birds singing from your kitchen? Are there clouds in the sky? Engage in mindfulness and meditation if you have moments when things feel out of control.
5. Connect with others. Call your family. Write old fashioned pen pal letters to friends. Join a chat group online. There are ways to connect without being in the same room. Talking with others who we trust about how we are feeling is important to our mental health. Talking with your behavioral health provider may be a good idea too.
If you’re feeling alone and struggling, you can also reach out to The Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741 or National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.
Youth may be feeling heightened anxiety about COVID-19 and being out of school. Routines have changed and they may feel unsettled. When speaking to a student or child about what’s happening, a few suggestions:
1. How are they are feeling? 2. How are they are sleeping? 3. Are they getting enough to eat? 4. Are they feeling anger? 5. Do they feel safe?
Reassure them that feeling scared, anxious, or angry is okay and normal. Give them suggestions for things they can do to feel more in control, like practicing breathing exercises, going for a bike ride, reading a book, playing with a pet.
If you are worried the student is experiencing suicidal thoughts, ask if there is someone else in the home. Make sure there is someone with the child. If the child is alone, keep them on the phone while you contact a parent or guardian. Local crisis teams can be reached at: 1-800-631-1314. This is a free service and they will be able to provide advice on appropriate next steps.
If the child isn’t getting enough to eat, or you are worried about the family’s food security, contact the Arizona Food Bank Network. Their website has the ability to enter a zip code and find the closest food bank or pantry. www.azfoodbanks.org 1-800-445-1914
Also, many schools are providing free breakfast and lunch for students while schools are closed. More information on participating locations can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/u9orpud