Wildfire Smoke and Face Masks

N95 Masks and Forest Fires in Canada

Exposure to wildfire smoke can cause discomfort in your eyes, nose, throat, and lungs. It may trigger coughing, wheezing, and difficulty in breathing. Individuals with pre-existing lung or heart conditions are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of inhaling wildfire smoke. To safeguard yourself from the adverse effects of wildfire smoke, it is advisable to remain indoors, minimize outdoor activities, and reduce physical exertion. If you must venture outside in smoky conditions, using “particulate respirators” can offer some protection. However, it is important to note that correctly wearing these masks can prove challenging for most individuals. Ill-fitting masks will provide little to no protection and may impede breathing. Therefore, individuals with lung or heart disease should consult their healthcare provider before using any type of mask.

Will a well-fitted N95 mask protect me from the wildfire smoke?

Correctly worn respirator masks can offer a degree of protection by effectively filtering out small particles present in smoke. However, it is important to note that masks are not effective in safeguarding against hazardous gases found in smoke.

What N95 mask should I get?

N95 respirators work best when fitted to enjoy the right size mask being worn. The Mask Fit Test which is done by FIRST AID CARE is an affordable mask that can help safeguard your respiratory system against the harmful effects of wildfire smoke. You should avoid using single-strap paper dust masks or surgical masks; instead, opt for masks with two straps that can be secured around your head. Additionally, choose a mask size that adequately covers your nose and fits snugly under your chin for an effective seal. Ill-fitting masks may not offer sufficient protection.

How should an N95-fitted mask be worn?

  1. Position the mask securely, covering your nose and resting beneath your chin.
  2. Ensure that one strap is positioned below your ears and the other above.
  3. Make necessary adjustments to the mask to prevent any air from seeping through the edges.
  4. Inadequate sealing of the mask allows unfiltered air to enter.
  5. Firmly pinch the metal part of the mask over the bridge of your nose.
  6. Masks fit most effectively on clean-shaven skin.
  7. Individuals with beards will not achieve a proper seal, rendering the masks ineffective.
  8. Dispose of your mask if breathing becomes difficult, if it sustains damage, or if the interior becomes soiled.
  9. Keep in mind that wearing a mask may impede breathing, especially during outdoor work.

For more information on N95 Mask Fit Testing for adults, please visit www.firstaidcare.ca or call 1-888-460-5999.

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