Woman wearing a face mask

GREAT FALLS- With rising temperatures, the thought of wearing any kind of face covering may seem unbearable.

But there are a few things you can do to keep yourself safe from the Coronavirus and heat related illnesses.

The president of St. Peter’s Health Medical group says wearing a mask will not significantly increase your risk of heat related illnesses.

“It's a pretty small amount of heat that we lose to respiration, and the mask itself doesn’t really hold in the heat. If you are experiencing symptoms of heat related illness, you might have an exacerbation of those symptoms because of the mask and if you’re having a little more difficulty breathing,” said Wampler.

COVID-19 continues to spread even in the heat of summer, meaning social distancing and wearing those masks is as important as ever to prevent transmission.

One thing he says you can do to stay safe on all fronts is by staying hydrated and avoiding the hot temperatures.  

“The people who are at greatest risk for heat related illness are the people who are at increased risk for the coronavirus,” said Wampler.

If you are experiencing symptoms, he says it’s important to take a break  

“Take a seat, find some shade and rest a little bit. If you can get to a place where you can create some distance between you and other people outside and you need to remove your mask to catch your breath a little bit then do so,” said Wampler.

People struggling with their masks in the heat should try switching to a lightweight mask that’s more breathable.

But there’s also something else to take into consideration, hygiene.

With the summer heat comes sweat and Wampler says it’s best to wash your mask every day

“If that mask really gets moist with sweat or any other moisture, whether you try to cool yourself off with mist or something like that, the mask doesn’t work as well to filter the virus if it’s wet,” said Wampler.

Some tips – carry a spare mask or two with you just in case and make sure you’re sanitizing your hands when you’re taking it on and off.  

“Part of the value of wearing a mask is avoiding touching your face and reminding you that you shouldn’t touch your face because that’s how a lot of the virus has been transmitted to us,” said Wampler.

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