Put Your Mask Over Your Damn Nose

Woman in quarantine wearing a mask and looking through the window. Pandemic of Coronavirus / Covid-19.
Image: Getty Images

We know that you should be wearing some form of face covering to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. You just should. Don’t argue with me on this.

Even if you are wearing a face mask, however, you could be making a mistake that will compromise the effectiveness of containing your germs and droplets.

The most obvious error (which I can’t even believe we need to call out) is leaving your nose exposed. The mask should cover your nose, mouth, and chin. If your nose is sticking out, you’re exhaling droplets all around you. If you happen to forget, use this very informative educational illustration as a reminder.

You also may be tempted to use a mask with a fancy-looking valve. The problem with these valves is they filter the air you breathe in but not out. Since the main point of the mask is to contain your own droplets when you breathe out, the valve actually defeats the purpose. Some valve masks have a switch to open or close the valve. If you have one, keep it set on closed so your exhales stay closer to you.

And then of course be sure to keep your mask clean. Don’t wear it if it’s visibly dirty or damp. Clean it at least once a day. Store it in a clean resealable bag, not on a dirty surface.

But most importantly: Cover your nose! Wear the mask and cover your nose and mouth. This has been my TED Talk. Thank you for listening.

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