This spring, we all got used to wearing masks to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus. But with summer heat now in full force, face masks can become unbearably stuffy.
Fortunately, there are ways to keep cool during the hot, hazy days of summer. Following are some suggestions for remaining comfortable while staying safe in warm weather.
Choose the right material
As we have reported, the American Chemical Society says a combination of two fabrics — cotton and either natural silk or chiffon — is particularly effective in filtering out aerosol coronavirus particles.
But another especially breathable combination — two layers of good old-fashioned T-shirt material — has a 98% droplet blocking efficiency while promoting breathability, according to researchers at the University of Illinois. The combination is more protective than a medical mask.
Pick a brighter color
Darker colors absorb more heat. According to Chicago’s ABC New affiliate:
“‘Good Morning America’s’ Becky Worley recorded the temperature difference between a light-colored mask and a dark-colored mask on a 78-degree day. Her remote thermometer recorded 105 degrees for a black mask and 94 degrees for a light blue surgical mask.”
So, during the summer months, it makes sense to choose face coverings of lighter shades.
Try to outfox the heat
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that wearing a face covering in hot weather could increase the risk of heat-related illnesses.
It recommends removing face coverings if you are in a hot environment where you are able to maintain safe social distancing.
Also, if you have to be outside in a mask, try to do so early or late in the day, when the heat is less intense.
Take off your mask before swimming
Before taking a dip in a public pool — or in the ocean or a lake — take off your face covering.
The CDC says a wet cloth face covering can make it more difficult to breathe. So, simply maintain a safe social distance from other swimmers.
Keep your mask dry
A wet face covering also can be abrasive to the skin, notes AARP.
Jennifer Vanos, an Arizona State University biometeorologist who studies the effects of heat on health, told the organization that masks made of absorbent materials such a bamboo can absorb up to three times as much water as cotton. Hemp also is good at wicking moisture.
If you plan to spend a long period in the heat while wearing a mask, pack a spare so you can change out of a damp mask.