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How to Wear a Mask and Stay Cool and Safe in the Summer

Despite lifted restrictions and the reopening of many activities, experts still recommend wearing a mask — even if it's outdoors. As temperatures rise, wearing a mask may feel stifling at times.

by Samantha Ickes, Akron, Ohio, Beacon Journal / June 11, 2020
Frank Kuntz, a retired Wooster City firefighter, wears his mask on his walk at Oak Hill Park as a courtesy. TNS/Mike Schenk/The-Daily-Record.com

(TNS) — Though the season doesn't officially begin until June 20, the hot temperatures and sunshine has many people venturing outdoors to find a way to cool off or enjoy the weather.

Despite lifted restrictions and the reopening of many activities, experts still recommend wearing a mask — even if it's outdoors.

As temperatures rise, wearing a mask may feel stifling at times. How do you keep cool and stay safe during the coronavirus pandemic?

Use your judgment

Nicholas Cascarelli, Wayne County Health Department commissioner, said wearing a mask outdoors can be difficult depending upon the activity. In cases where someone may be out walking or jogging, a mask isn't as critical as long as the 6-foot guidelines are followed, he said.

Individuals should also consult with their physicians about wearing masks if they have other health conditions, Cascarelli said.

"Obviously masks are important right now because of the pandemic," he said. "You are your own best judge. Exercise caution, especially on days like today when we're getting up around 90 degrees."

Kathy Witmer, manager of communications and development at UH Samaritan Medical Center in Ashland, said suggested practices for wearing a mask in the heat are similar to wearing a mask in the cold.

Recommendations include staying home if possible, staying hydrated, washing hands frequently, washing your mask daily and maintaining physical distancing, Witmer said.

Kim Booth, a registered nurse and director of the emergency department at Wooster Community Hospital, said the core recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and prevention have not changed even with warmer temperatures. It is still recommended people frequently wash their hands for at least 20 seconds, wear a mask and remember the 6-foot rule.

However, she added, wearing a mask during excessive heat or during physical exercise can present some challenges.

Booth recommended a few general guidelines to prevent heat-related illnesses such as heat stroke, including drinking plenty of fluids, limiting time outdoors and wearing light-colored clothing.

Light-colored clothing includes a mask, she noted, adding tightly-woven cotton is the best to use on hot days. Cotton is light-weight and breathable, which can be more comfortable, Booth said.

"The lighter the color, the less absorbent of UV rays it is, so it will be much cooler for you," she added.

People should take a break and return to a shaded or cool area where it is appropriate to take off their mask if they begin experiencing symptoms of heat-related illnesses, Booth said.

According to the CDC, symptoms include excessive sweating, lightheadedness, dizziness, nausea and tiredness or weakness.

Booth urged people to seek immediate medical attention if someone becomes confused or agitated, experiences seizures, loses consciousness, vomits or is unable to drink.

Keeping your distance

Dave Adams, 56, went for a three-mile walk/run before noon Tuesday. After his walk, he rested on the bench in front of the parking area.

The Wooster resident said he doesn't wear a mask when he's outdoors as long as he can be distanced from others. Whenever he goes to the store, he said, he always wears a mask in public.

Adams has a membership at Gault Recreation and Fitness Center. However, he said, he's not comfortable exercising indoors near others and will continue using outdoor trails as an alternative.

"Here in Oak Hill park, typically there are very few times that I'm close to anyone," Adams said, adding he usually only passes a few people during his walk.

Retired Wooster firefighter Frank Kuntz wore a mask as he walked along the trail in Oak Hill Park Tuesday just before noon.

The 72-year-old always brings a mask with him — though he takes it off whenever there is no one nearby, Kuntz said.

As a frequent park-goer, Kuntz notices many do not respect the social distancing etiquette. There has been times, Kuntz said, when he had to walk a few feet into the grassy area to avoid a group that stretched across the pathway rather than moving to one side to allow safe passage.

Though it's uncomfortable at times to wear a mask, especially on hot days, it's a small price to pay, Kuntz said.

Kuntz considers the nurses and doctors who are required to wear a mask 12 hours a day and have blisters and sores from it.

"Until they get a vaccine, just do your part," Kuntz said. "A lot of people don't agree with me, but that's the least you can do is wear your mask."

Reach Samantha at 330-287-1626 or Samantha.Ickes@the-daily-record.com. On Twitter: @SamanthaKIckes.

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©2020 the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)

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