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How To Properly Wear A Face Mask & Stay Safe During The Pandemic

October 20, 2020

As cases of COVID-19 begin to rise again across North America, it is imperative to protect yourself and others in helping prevent further spread of the coronavirus. While you should be washing your hands, using sanitizer, and covering your coughs and sneezes, wearing a mask is an essential step you should also take to stay safe. 

The virus can spread via respiratory droplets between people interacting in close proximity, such as coughing, sneezing or talking. Wearing a face mask in public can help protect others if you are infected with the virus and do not know it, since you can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. 

Experts emphasize that medical grade masks are the best masks to prevent exposure to the coronavirus.

“Wearing a mask is recommended when we are indoors with others and can’t reliably maintain the six-foot social distancing rules, In these circumstances, a mask can add an extra layer of protection.” - Amanda Valyko, MPH, the director of infection prevention and epidemiology

Below we will breakdown the do’s and don'ts of wearing face masks:


  • Do always wash your hands with soap and water before touching the face mask.

  • Do remove the mask from the dispenser or box and make sure the masks do not have any holes or tears.

  • Do make sure you determine which side is the top and which is the front of the mask, so you can properly wear the mask.

  • Face masks with ear loops: hold by the ear loops and put the loops around each ear.
illustration of hand washing

Wash your hands before and after touching the mask.

illustration of a hand holding a mask by the strap

Touch only the bands or ties when putting on and taking off your mask.

illustration of a woman wearing a mask properly covering her face

Make sure the mask fits to cover your nose, mouth and chin. If you adjust the mask to cover those areas, wash your hands before and after.

illustration of an older woman talking while wearing a mask

Make sure you can breathe and talk comfortably through your mask.



  • Don’t put a mask on a young child under age 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated or unable to remove the cloth face covering without assistance.

  • Don’t push your mask down on your chin to eat or drink. Remove it completely, perform hand hygiene, and then put it back on snugly when finished.
  • Don’t wear a mask that is soiled, torn, saturated, damaged or has any distortions in shape or form.

  • Don’t neglect to continue taking other preventive measures, including staying 6 feet away from others, paying attention to where your hands are, and washing your hands often.


Illustrations of ineffective face masks, including a mask with a valve, a bandanna and a neck gaiter

We do not recommend wearing bandanas, gaiters or masks with exhalation valves as face coverings.

illustration of a man touching his mask when he isn't supposed to

Don’t touch your or your child’s mask while it is being worn.

illustration of a man incorrectly wearing his mask under his chin

Don’t wear the mask under your chin with your nose and mouth exposed.

illustration of a woman incorrectly wearing a mask with her nose and chin exposed

Don’t leave your nose or mouth uncovered.

A man removing his mask in public

Don’t remove the mask while around others in public.

While wearing a mask may not keep you from getting COVID-19, it can help lower the odds. If you are sick, a mask can help keep your germs from infecting others. If you are healthy, a mask can help keep respiratory droplets from someone who is sick. Wearing a mask offers protection while not wearing one offers none. DO your part, because we are all at the lowest risk when everyone wears a mask.

*This article is not meant to be taken as medical advice. Please follow the advice of your local health authorities when making decisions about your own health and the people around you.
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