Has the novel coronavirus got you thinking about wearing a face mask or respirator on your next flight?
Below are a few things I learned when I worked in a Toronto hospital during the SARS crisis 17 years ago. (Compared to other parts of the world, Toronto was hit especially hard by the SARS coronavirus, with more than 400 cases and 44 deaths.) My job was screening visitors at a rehabilitation hospital’s front desk, and I wore an N90 respirator (the heavy-duty face mask) and full protective gear.
It needs to fit
First off, using just any face mask (also called a respirator) that’s not fitted to your face by a professional will not give you the full protection you might expect. I had to try three different (disposable) styles under the supervision of a professional respirator-fitter before finding one that had the correct fit. Comfort during this crisis was honestly the last concern, and they were terribly uncomfortable because the fit was so snug. There are articles (like this one) and videos making the rounds showing the face-mask-indented flesh of Wuhan nurses after their rounds. Just so you know what you’re getting into, properly worn (even for a few hours) N90 face masks are uncomfortable and restrict breathing, in my experience.
How you put it on and take it off matter a lot
If you’re going to wear a N90 or N95 face mask, learn the proper steps involved in putting it on and taking it off. Once it’s on, you leave it on and you don’t touch it at all until you’ve taken the appropriate hand-washing and disposal steps. The WHO posted this short video on taking off—aka “doffing”—a mask:
Don’t mess this part up! If you rub germs all over your face, you’re undoing the point of covering your mouth and nose. Don’t trust your memory of the steps, either. At the hospital, we had a laminated instruction checklist to reinforce the proper “doffing” steps. Make your own checklist or grab a screenshot to refer to on your phone.
Think twice before using a reusable masks or sleep eyemask
Recently Gwyneth Paltrow took a plane selfie wearing a reusable face mask and sleep eyemask. For smog, a reusable face mask makes sense, but for germs, I was left wondering: Was she going to take the appropriate steps to disinfect her mask right after she used it? Or was she going to stuff it in her purse? That’s a terrible idea if it’s contaminated, obviously. That’s why you’ll often see public health officials encouraging disposable masks, if they’re encouraging them at all.
Also, if you’re worried about plane viruses, don’t use a sleep eyemask if you’re going to have to touch your face repeatedly to put it on and off. Think about the logistics here. Once it’s over your eyes and you can’t see anything, how will you wash your hands to take it off? “Wash your hands frequently” but also “don’t touch your face” is the consistent messaging we hear from public health officials during this COVID-19 outbreak.
One final note…
I’m definitely not a trained respirator-fitter, nor am I a public health official or occupational health specialist. What I do have is a lot of experience wearing heavy-duty face masks, and the above tips come from my experience. Read them, but please also do your own research and consult health professionals, as this post isn’t meant as a substitution for medical advice.
Have your own tip? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Want to see more tips? Click here for all 1,653!
Want even more travel tips? Sign up here for the Daily Travel Tip newsletter! Enter your email address and check “Daily Travel Tip” to receive Johnny’s best tips in your inbox each day!
If you already subscribe to our weekly newsletter, you can sign up on the same page. Just fill in your email and check “Daily Travel Tip” on the same page. You’ll receive an email with a link to update your JohnnyJet.com preferences. On that page, just click the Daily Travel Tip box and Update Profile.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
The comments on this page are not provided, reviewed, or otherwise approved by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered. Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.