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Wearing a mask is a simple way to stop respiratory illnesses from spreading. A respiratory illness includes colds, influenza, COVID-19, and other illnesses that affect your breathing.
Masks work to stop respiratory illnesses from spreading because they:
Masks work best when you also take other actions. These include:
When everyone does these things, it helps everyone stay safe.
Wearing a mask and cleaning your hands helps to keep everyone safe when you’re within 2 metres of another person for a short time. You may be asked or choose to wear a mask in shared indoor spaces such as:
Keep following recommendations of when to wear a mask, even if you’ve had the COVID-19 or influenza vaccine.
A clean non-medical mask or a medical mask that fits snuggly over your mouth, nose, and chin is fine for most places. Do not wear a mask with an exhalation valve (a spot that opens when you breathe out), because droplets go out through the valve and can spread germs.
A non-medical mask can be either reusable or disposable (you throw it in the garbage after using it). If your reusable mask is homemade, it’s best if it has 3 layers, including a filter layer.
Your mask should:
To put on your mask:
To take off your mask:
For reusable masks, it’s a good idea to carry a bag to safely store used masks until you can wash them at home. Also, carry a bag that has a few clean masks in it. Always clean your hands after taking off your reusable mask and before you take a clean mask from the bag.
Follow the washing and drying instructions for reusable masks. If there are no instructions, wash reusable masks in the washing machine or by hand with soap and water. You can dry them in the dryer or let them air dry. Reusable masks should keep their shape after washing and drying.
If your mask gets damp or dirty, clean your hands and put on a new one. Wear a new mask at least every day.
Family and visitors entering an AHS facility are asked to clean their hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water. You may be asked to wear a mask in all areas of the building. You can wear your own disposable, clean, and intact mask when entering an AHS facility.
Your glasses can fog up when the warm air you breathe comes out the top of the mask and steams up the lenses. Try these tips to stop your glasses from fogging up:
Most people are able to wear a mask, but some people can’t wear a mask for medical reasons. Masks are also not recommended for children who are younger than 2 years old.
If you need urgent medical care, you will get the care you need. If possible, tell your doctor or the healthcare facility before you visit that you can't wear a mask. You may need to go to a private room or separate space when you arrive.
To learn more about wearing non-medical masks to help stop COVID-19 from spreading, see Alberta Health’s COVID-19: Mask Requirements.
Wearing a mask to stop the spread
To see this information online and learn more, visit MyHealth.Alberta.ca/health/pages/conditions.aspx?Hwid=custom.ab_covid19_maskwearing_inst.
For 24/7 nurse advice and general health information call Health Link at 811.
Current as of: May 1, 2023
Author: Infection Prevention & Control, Alberta Health Services
This material is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified health professional. This material is intended for general information only and is provided on an "as is", "where is" basis. Although reasonable efforts were made to confirm the accuracy of the information, Alberta Health Services does not make any representation or warranty, express, implied or statutory, as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, applicability or fitness for a particular purpose of such information. Alberta Health Services expressly disclaims all liability for the use of these materials, and for any claims, actions, demands or suits arising from such use.