Medical experts have learned that, despite earlier reports to the contrary, coronavirus spreads just as easily in hot weather, so they advise continuing to wear masks, but offer tips for ways to make it more comfortable.
Here are a few answers given by health experts to common questions about wearing a mask outdoors and in hot weather.
Dr. Emil Lesho, an infectious disease expert with Rochester Regional Health advises that if you are going to come in close contact with others, even if you are outdoors, it is advisable to wear a mask.
“In this time of COVID-19, where we are still seeing transmission, it’s more important to wear the mask than not wear the mask,” Dr. Lesho advises.
Many people wonder, if outdoor workers are six feet apart from others and will remain that way, is it okay to not wear a mask?
Dr. Lesho says it is safe to not wear a mask outdoors if you will be six feet apart or greater from others.
“No,” Dr. Lesho says. “When you think about all of the stuff the firemen have to wear and cops have to wear, a face mask is insignificant.”
“The danger is not wearing a mask,” Dr. Lesho adds.
Here are a few tips gathered from a variety of sources.
If you can avoid going out on very hot days, that might be the most comfortable route. However, if you must go out, then try to plan ahead so that the time you have to wear a mask in the heat will be limited.
Many people were masks when they are alone and isolated from others, such as when they are driving a car. The only time you need to wear a mask is when you are going to come in close contact with others, as within six feet or less.
Make your life easier by not wearing a mask when you don’t need to.
Some advise that you should seek a mask made out of cotton material rather than a synthetic blend. However, we would advise caution there. The whole point of wearing a mask is to have one that provides protection.
Hospital-grade surgical masks are designed to achieve a certain standard of protection. A cotton mask may simply be cloth material, but may not necessarily provide adequate protection. Choose wisely.
Particulate respirator masks, such as the 3M N95, offer the highest level of protection but are a bit harder to breathe in and may be uncomfortable on hot days. A surgical mask offers adequate protection and better breathability.
It may seem like a no-brainer, but it bears mentioning. Direct sunlight can heat up your mask. N95 masks have a metal strip across the top that can get very hot, very quickly, from the sun.
Black masks may look fashionable, but will be much warmer, heat up more rapidly on hot days as opposed to those made out of light-colored material.
Cloth masks can get damp from sweat, becoming less effective at filtering out germs. If you’re going to be outdoors for a long time, where you may dampen your mask with perspiration, have a spare one handy.
It has long been known that ultraviolet light has a sterilization effect and can kill germs and bacteria on surfaces and objects. Physical therapists and doctors treat infected wounds using UV lights.
(*But don’t try this at home, on your skin or try to treat yourself, it’s highly dangerous if you aren’t trained to know what you are doing – you can cause skin damage or skin cancer and even the best anti-wrinkle cream won’t protect you – so leave it to the pros).
With that said, you can kill germs on the surface of your mask by exposing it to direct sunlight. Lay your mask on the dashboard of your car and let the sun sterilize your mask.