This Amazing Simple Trick Can Make Your Face Mask Much Safer

Your PPE should be helping to stop the spread of the coronavirus—and this one tip will make sure it does.

While social distancing and hand washing are important tools in fighting the coronavirus pandemic, research has proven that wearing a face mask is also necessary in order to stop the spread of COVID-19. But if you're wearing a mask with a valve, you may be still be putting others at risk. According to health experts, non-medical versions of the popular N95 masks that include a breathing valve are actually spreading the very germs they're meant to be blocking—unless you use a simple trick to make your face mask safer. All you have to do, according to The Los Angeles Times, is simply tape over the valve to stop any droplets from escaping and infecting others.

Here's an instructional video on what to do with your mask valve:

Masks with valves have been such an issue that in late May, San Francisco public health officials issued an order banning masks with valves:

Any mask that incorporates a one-way valve (typically a raised plastic cylinder about the size of a quarter on the front or side of the mask) that is designed to facilitate easy exhaling allows droplets to be released from the mask, putting others nearby at risk. As a result, these masks are not a Face Covering under this Order and must not be used to comply with this Order's requirements.

Other parts of California and Colorado, including many public venues and attractions, have also banned face masks with valves, according to Forbes. "Face masks with valves defeat the purpose of wearing a mask in the first place," they wrote. "It would not be surprising to see more cities, counties, and perhaps states adopt the anti-valve provision."

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So if you have a mask with a valve, be sure to get your tape out and voilà—you're good to go! And for more info on how to take your PPE into your own hands, check out These Are the Materials You Need to Make the Perfect Face Mask, Scientists Say.

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Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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