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By now, we all know to wear a mask when going anywhere outside the home. Now the question is what type of mask to choose?
Gone are the early days of the coronavirus pandemic when there were mask shortages and DIY alternatives, as thankfully stock replenished and has been distributed to hospitals, frontline workers and the common person as well. Now, with an array of available PPE like the popular N95 and KN95, the coveted 3M masks and the iconic blue medical masks, to name a few, it’s hard to know which to wear.
“Some situations may have higher risk of exposure to COVID-19 than others, so the level of protection needed may vary,” According to the CDC website.
The site goes on to list higher-risk activities, such as flying on airplanes or traveling in vehicles with unknown passengers, visiting relatives in a hospital or healthcare setting and working in a public-facing job where social distancing isn’t always possible. These activities require a higher level protective gear. For going to the grocery store or a routine visit to your doctor, there’s a mask for that, and outdoor activities like a walk in the park may only need a cloth or blue medical mask.
We’ve compiled a list of masks and their uses below, including options for children and smaller faces, all with links to order yours in a snap, with options for bulk orders as well to keep you fully stocked through the summer.
1) KN95 mask: Perfect for travel, hospital settings, public-facing jobs
Perfect for riding on planes, trains, and automobiles with non-members of your household, this mask is for you.
“For some situations, especially those that require prolonged close contact with people who do not live with you, you may prefer to use a KN95 mask identified on the FDA Emergency Use Authorization List,” According to the CDC website.
At just $1.99 each, the masks come individually wrapped, perfect for sticking a few extra in your carry on and having them handy in your glovebox. They are available in five sizes and are available in either classic white or black.
The child’s size KN95 is great for the same stuff as the adult version but provides better protection for their smaller proportions, as it hugs their face for a better seal than using an adult’s mask.
The kids’ masks come in packs of 10, with five white and five blue masks in an adorable animal cartoon bag. You can also keep them all wrapped individually, making it easy to take with you on the school bus or on an airplane.
3) N95 surgical mask: Perfect for visiting loved ones in the hospital
Another highly talked-about mask is the N95, a great option for other higher-risk situations like visiting grandma in her assisted living facility or going to a public-facing job.
“An N95 respirator is a respiratory protective device designed to achieve a very close facial fit and very efficient filtration of airborne particles. Note that the edges of the respirator are designed to form a seal around the nose and mouth,” This is the FDA website. “Surgical N95 Respirators are commonly used in healthcare settings and are a subset of N95 Filtering Facepiece Respirators (FFRs), often referred to as N95s.”
RespoKare’s N95 Surgical Respirator mask is FDA approved and NIOSH-approved. There are no knockoffs. They are sold for $3.49 each and come in three sizes to perfectly fit your face and in quantities of two or more per order.
4) 3M mask: Great for construction work, debris and dust
The 3M mask was around long before the pandemic and is actually wonderful for non-virus-related things, like remodeling your home, woodworking and other dusty activities.
This 3M mask is actually an N95 respirator mask, so you can also feel comfortable wearing one of these to the hospital, doctor’s office or on public transit, as they have a great seal, keeping particles out of your nose and mouth and keeping you from spreading them to others.
The masks are $2.99 each and sold in quantities of 20, which is great for your spring cleaning project, construction or finally getting up in your dusty attic for the first time since the pandemic started.
5) Surgical 3 Layer Mask: For everyday use, especially during cold and flu season
The next two masks are some of the most common and intended for everyday use, be it on the street or in the grocery store. This mask protects not just against the coronavirus but also against 18 different flu viruses, including influenza types A and B, plus bird and swine flu, as well as measles, SARS, MERS and other airborne pathogens, according to the site.
“Medical procedure masks (including surgical masks) intended for community use are commercially available and are often sold as ‘disposable face masks,’” According to the CDC. “Check the labels to ensure that they are made of multi-layered, non-woven material.”
RespoKare Antiviral Surgical Mask: Available for purchase at $2.49 per piece in small orders of two. Shipping is within 48 hours. This will provide immediate protection for you and your family.
6) 3 Layer Mask: Great option for lower-risk activities
The most common masks on the street are the blue, three-ply ones — and for good reason, as the CDC recommends them to the general public, either on their own for lower-risk activities or layered under a cloth mask for higher-risk times.
“Use cloth or medical procedure masks that have a nose wire (a metal strip along the top of the mask) to help prevent air leakage at the top of the mask,” According to the CDC. “Nose wires can also help to prevent fogging of eyeglasses. To get a good fit, make sure to bend the nose wire over your nose to conform to your face.”
The nose wire is a great and important feature, and luckily the WellBefore 3 PLY Disposable Face Masks come with the nose bridge and ear loops to keep your mask securely fastened to your face. They are only 29 cents each, and you can get them in a standard blue or black color for just a few more cents.
7) Child’s 3 layer mask: Great for a day at school, the playground and beyond
Protecting your child is your main priority, so finding them a mask that fits their face is step one.
Since masks are not one-size-fits-all, this three-ply version was designed to be smaller to fit a child’s proportions, measuring 14.5cm by 9.5cm. Individually wrapped, they are easy to carry around in a backpack or lunch bag for any needs. Both the blue and the black masks cost just 29 cents each and come in quantities of 10.
“Our Kids Disposable 3-PLY Face Masks come with elastic ear hooks. The inner layer is made of soft facial tissue, is non-pigmented and soft to the skin,” reads the product description. “The filter membrane is made of safety standard materials, three-layer disposable masks, which can be used by children and adults, can maintain health and safety when working or going out, can well protect the health of the respiratory system and protect your breathing.”
8) NIOSH N95 mask: For healthcare workers and settings
Since there are tons of masks for the general public, this one should be saved for health care workers and medical settings. If that’s you or your business, read on as they also offer bulk orders perfect for the workplace.
“CDC does not recommend the use of N95 respirators for protection against COVID-19 in non-healthcare settings,” The organization notes. “N95 respirators should be reserved for healthcare personnel and for other workers who are required to wear them for protection against other hazards.”
The white masks have a nose pad to make all-day wear easier, as well as head straps as opposed to ear loops. The masks are sold for $2.49 each in quantities as low as two masks per order.