Is the N95 unbearable? Tricks to stay safe without N95 mask
The good news is that in most cases you don’t have to wear the N95 mask for long. Sure, if you want close to 100% protection, the N95 is what you need. But in most cases, you won’t need it. Here at SmitMask, we have stayed healthy by mostly wearing SmitMasks.
Most people fail to wear the N95 correctly. It should ideally be worn completely sealed. That means, you can put medical tape all around it and tape it to your face, closing off all the gaps. Many people wear the N95 with large gaps especially around the nose. This means that most of the air is going in through that gap and not through the mask material. Try to see if you can smell cigarette smoke nearby. If you have gaps, you’ll be able to smell the smoke within seconds, or less than a minute.
When the N95 is worn correctly, it tends to be hard to wear it for a long time. In some cases, like going to the hospital or the doctor’s office where many sick people congregate and windows are closed, you’ll want to wear an N95 properly sealed for the duration of your visit. Or if you’re going to be in a small enclosed space with tons of people, then you’ll want to wear an N95.
In most other cases in our daily lives however, like going to the store, or riding the subway, you can employ “tricks” to not wear the N95 and still be relatively safe. The key is ventilation and space. Most stores have high enough ceilings such that the space isn’t very “closed”. Exhaled air floats upwards (it's warmer) and can spread into the bigger space above you. Any virus in exhaled air will be spread out into that bigger space above you too and you won’t breathe in that much “virus air”. In most cases, you probably aren't spending hours in a small store with little space. In these cases, your comfortable cloth mask would be fine for the relatively short times you are in a small confined space. When there is space for air to spread out, your risk is reduced, and your cloth mask is fine.
Similarly, in a subway or bus, you’ll want to stay in the area where air is moving and has space to move. You’d want to stand near the door, or windows, and you’d want to make sure that the windows are open as much as possible. In these spots, you’ll be in an area where air can move around and away from you. Then a comfortable cotton mask would be fine too.
Lastly, outdoors is always safer than indoors. If you can choose outdoor seating in a restaurant, do it. Otherwise, choose to sit near the door where air can flow out. This is important because people aren’t wearing masks most of the time in a restaurant.
In short, in certain cases where risks are high, like the doctor’s office, you’ll want to wear the N95 sealed. In most cases in everyday life, you can get away with wearing a very comfortable cotton mask by choosing to stay in areas where air has space to flow away from you. What is important is that everybody wears a comfortable mask to reduce virus spread. It was no coincident that when many people were wearing masks, incidences of the flu, colds, stomach flus and other viral diseases significantly reduced. Isn’t it better that everybody stay healthy than be sick, even if it's not Covid?