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Swine Flu (H1N1) and Face Masks

When and how to use face masks in home and community settings.

How to Use a Face Mask During a Swine Flu Pandemic

  • Don't rely on a face mask as your only protection. Avoid crowds, avoid close contact with sick people, and wash your hands often -- even if you wear a mask. And to protect others if you're sick, observe cough/sneeze etiquette and stay home.
  • Before putting on a face mask, wash your hands thoroughly.
  • Don't touch the outside of the face mask while you're wearing it or when you take it off.
  • Use disposable face masks only once, then -- holding them by the bands or ties, not the front of the mask -- throw them in the trash. Don't let the used mask touch anything else.
  • After taking off a face mask, wash your hands thoroughly.
  • Before reusing a fabric face mask (note that these are NOT approved by the FDA), wash it in normal laundry detergent and tumble dry in a hot dryer.

 

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Reviewed on August 10, 2009

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