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Wearing a Mask for Long Periods of Time

Most businesses have made wearing a mask mandatory. Airlines are no exception. Enough time has passed that most people are already used to wearing a mask whenever they are out in public. But many people only wear them for short shopping trips. What happens when you wear a mask for a long time?

In my last post I talked about going to Disney World. We were there for almost 10 hours and had to wear masks all day. The only exceptions were eating and drinking (you had to be standing in once place though) and children under 2 years old. More on that later.

What we found out was that we had the wrong type of masks. Of course, when choosing a mask the most important thing is how well it will protect you, but you should also consider how comfortable it is. Our masks were fine for short trips to the store where we stayed inside air conditioning. Outside was a different story. They were just too hot. The material was thick and nothing separated it from our faces. All day long our noses and mouths were covered in sweat. At times it was almost unbearable and we had to take a water break just so we could cool down.

Another issue was the way they fit over our ears. It was something we just didn’t notice or think about for short shopping trips. The ear loops were too thick and ever so slightly too small with no elasticity so that the mask pulled on our ears all day. By the time we left the park the back of our ears were red and sore.

I imagine most airline passengers are going to have similar experiences. Wearing a mask for a short time is very different to wearing one all day. Most airports are going to require you to wear a mask so if you are flying across the country you could find yourself wearing a mask for 6 or 7 hours.

Now that masks have become common and are easy to find, I would recommend trying a few different designs and styles. We bought new masks the day after we went to Disney. These masks feature thinner elastic ear loops and a more defined front section that keeps them from touching your face. Even so, we are still going to practice wearing them outside for at least an hour before our next theme park trip.

The last thing I want to say is that getting small children to wear a mask is very difficult. Our youngest daughter is 2 months away from her second birthday. She had experience wearing a mask before but on this day she just kept taking it off. We were lucky that children under 2 weren’t required to wear a mask at Disney. But on an airplane it’s a different story. Airlines do not have any mask exceptions and families have been removed from flights because they couldn’t keep a mask on their child. Our plan is to try to get her to wear one around the house and make it longer and longer each time. I’ll let you know how that goes.

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Jay Muller

Author of The Flight Advisor