One of the key ways to protect oneself from the spread of germs is to wear a facemask or N95 respirator. Swine Flu Masks are available in many different designs for a comfortable fit.
The symptoms of the Swine Flu are typical of other strains of flu: coughing, fever, sore throat, sneezing, body aches, and some reports of diarrhea and vomiting. In Mexico, the outbreak has become very serious. Pharmacies have sold out of facemasks; there have even been reports of persons stockpiling them and asking twenty-five times the price of them.
If the Swine Flu progresses through the United States and other countries, now is a good time to instruct those who are taking care of sick family members on the proper use of facemasks or respirators. Healthcare givers, such as nursing home attendants, hospital and emergency staffs are already well trained in the use of personal protective equipment. Here are some safety tips for using respirators or facemasks:
- If you must have close contact with the sick person (holding a sick child), spend the least amount of time possible in close contact and wear a facemask (for example, surgical mask) or N95 disposable respirator.
- Breathing through a facemask is easier than an N95 respirator for an extended period of time; however, the respirator filters out germs that can be inhaled around the edges of a facemask.
- If you help a sick person with respiratory treatments using a nebulizer or inhaler, as directed by their physician, you should wear an N95 respirator. These treatments should be given in a different room of the house, if possible.
- After you remove a facemask or N95 respirator, wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Hot water and soap is preferred.
- Used facemasks and N95 respirators should never come in contact with anything else and should be properly disposed of.
- If a reusable fabric facemask is used, it should be laundered with normal laundry detergent and tumble-dried in a hot dryer. Use this type of protection as a last resort; disposable protection is preferred.
The best way to avoid illness is to stay as healthy as possible and keep away from those you know are sick. If you think you may have this virus, see your doctor as soon as possible, and get treated. So far, the cases of Swine Flu in the United States have been mild.