Stay safe while wearing a mask in the heat
COLUMBIA - Staying cool in the summer is a must, but this year it involves wearing masks.
Wearing a mask can be uncomfortable for some people, especially when it's hot outside. However, Dr. Christopher Sampson, an emergency physician at MU Health Care, said wearing masks in the heat is safe.
“In general, wearing masks during heat is still safe,” Sampson said.
People may have a harder time breathing with a mask on, but Sampson said scientifically masks do not restrict your oxygen.
“A common misconception among people is that excessive mask wearing can cause issues with your oxygenation," he said. "We're wearing them all time in the emergency department, we're seeing patients, and we're not having any issues with our oxygenation.”
However, if someone has a respiratory illness, they may have a harder time breathing and should consult with their doctor about wearing a mask.
Sampson said in order to stay cool while wearing a mask, opt for lighter color ones. He also said its okay to pull down your mask and take a sip of water if you need to as long as you are away from others.
According to Columbia’s mask mandate, people do not have to wear a mask while exercising as long they are staying six feet from others. But one Columbia walker, Adriana Mendez, said she still wears her mask when walking outside.
“I think it's absolutely a responsibility of every citizen to wear the mask, no matter how uncomfortable it may be,” Mendez said. “It's not so bad in the heat, I don't find it.”
Sampson also said it is safe for people to wear a mask when exercising.
“So again, people may feel a little bit restricted when they're exercising, but we do know that people are able to exercise [with a mask]," he said.
In general, heat can be dangerous. So, Dr. Sampson said to look out for the following signs of heat related illnesses.
"Signs to watch out for, especially in excessive heat ,would be if you're feeling excessively thirsty,” Sampson said. "You feel dizzy. You feel like you're gonna pass out. Those are all signs that you probably need to seek some shade. Go indoors to a building where it's air conditioned.”
More concerning signs would be if you're with someone and they pass out, they're confused, they've stopped sweating. Those are really emergency signs and you probably need to call 911 and get them to a hospital.”
In order to beat this week’s upcoming heat, be sure to drink plenty of water, find shady areas, and go into air-conditioned spaces if the heat starts causing you any issues.