A mask might keep you safe from the coronavirus, but it probably won’t protect you from getting a ticket in some states.
It turns out that in some places, hanging anything from your rearview mirror — including a face mask — is against the law.
As we reported in “11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It,” states that frown upon this practice include New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
That is because authorities in those states fear that hanging anything — from fuzzy dice to air fresheners, graduation tassels and, yes, face masks — might obstruct your vision.
In Missouri, it is not technically illegal to leave an item dangling from the rearview mirror. But if a cop judges that the object is obstructing your vision, you still might get a citation.
And here is another good reason not to use your rearview mirror as a mask hanger: Dangling a used mask near the air vents can cause germs caught on the outside of the mask to blow around inside your car.
Leaving a mask in the car so you can reuse it also might leave you more susceptible to a coronavirus infection.
Masks need to be washed after every use, experts tell The Washington Post. Fail to do so, and you could put your health at risk. Jade Flinn, a nurse educator for the Biocontainment Unit at Johns Hopkins Medicine, tells the Post:
“Thinking about the moisture and the bacteria that’s building up in that mask itself, you don’t want to wear that mask again the next day.”
Flinn’s advice is blunt: She suggests treating your mask “like your underwear” and changing it every day.
If you absolutely must use a mask more than one day in row, take the advice of Michael Knight, an assistant professor of medicine at George Washington University.
He urges you to store the used mask in a clean paper bag or plastic baggie. Although not an ideal situation, at least storing a mask this way reduces the chances that it will be exposed to additional contaminants — or contaminate other areas. Be careful to wash your hands after storing it this way, in case you touched the contaminated side of the mask, Knight says.
For more about staying safe when on the go, check out “Do This in the Car If You Want to Avoid COVID-19.”