Thursday, June 20, 2013

N95 masks, do you need them?

 My collection of N95 masks

The smoke haze from the fires in Sumatra has affected Singapore since 13 June & the PSI (Pollutant Standards Index) is getting worse these days. Staying indoor in an air conditioned room is the best & recommended option so far.  However, sad to say that I still experiences some eyes & nose irritations as a result of the haze =(

Everybody in Facebook were 'updating' & discussing about PSI. There are even sales of N95 masks going on! These thoughts came to my mind immediately,
*Do they know their mask size when purchasing?
*Do they know how to don/remove an N95 mask correctly?
*How do they know whether the mask fits them?  

Well, it is quite worrying to see people buying things 'blindly' (no offence). As a healthcare professional, we were trained & certified on the usage. In school, this is the first few lessons that we taught our nursing students as they need to go out attachment & needed protection when needs (such as SARS) arise.

Just to share some tips on how to don & remove an N95 mask:

Donning an N95 mask
* Cup the N95 mask on your palm
* Place the mask over your nose & mouth
* Pull the top elastic strap & place it over top of your head
* Pull the lower elastic strap & place it on the base of your neck
* Adjust the mask for a comfortable fit & mould (Not Pinch!) the metal strap on the nose using fingertips of both hands
*Perform a seal check. If air leaks, adjust, reseal & recheck (in sch, we ask the student to wear his N95 mask & stand inside a hood. It is a plastic dome-shaped enclosure that covers their head & shoulders. A small hole is on the front of the hood where we insert a nebulizer & sprays a few puffs of a bitter solution at the student. The student is then asked to lift, bend & move his head sideways. Finally he needs to count to 10 slowly. If he is able to taste the bitterness at the back of his throat, that means the mask does not fit snugly & is 'leaking' somewhere. He thus needs to adjust, reseal & recheck. Some people may still failed the test despite multiple tries & using different brands of N95 mask!) 

Removing an N95 mask
* Hold the lower elastic strap of mask & bring the strap over to the front of mask
* Pull the top elastic strap with the other hand & lift the mask off the face
* Do not touch the front of the mask
* Discard after use (in hospital, we discard after our shift duty ends ~ roughly 8hrs) or store in Ziploc bag (during meal times & reuse until shift duty ends)

Choosing the right mask size is very crucial, else it defies the whole purpose of wearing an N95 mask! (btw, the size of mask is printed on the mask itself) If you have try wearing an N95 mask before, I'm sure you know how hot & suffocating it was =P

Take a look at this video by 3M 

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