FRC Safety During COVID-19: Wondering if FR Masks Contribute to Heat Stress?

As the weather warms up, do you have concerns about face masks becoming sweaty and uncomfortable? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  recommends wearing face masks, and in many states, they are required. Tyndale continues to cover flame resistant clothing (FRC) safety during COVID-19, and in our most recent video:

Watch VP of Technical, Scott Margolin cover AR / FR masks and how to properly wear them as temperatures are on the rise.

Watch the video by clicking on the preview to the left.

Will the mask add to heat stress?

It is important to understand the definition of heat stress so that you can better understand if and when you are at risk. Heat stress can occur when workers are exposed to heat and/or high humidity. To avoid heat stress our bodies naturally cool first by radiating heat, then through sweating. An AR / FR face mask does not in any way stop your body’s normal process of allowing heat to escape via thermal radiation or sweat. Wearing a face mask during the summer as temperatures rise will not add to heat stress.

Please continue to wear your mask in all appropriate circumstances.

It is important to recognize that wearing a FR mask is designed to prevent transmission of Coronavirus. While wearing a FR mask may be uncomfortable, the bottom line is that you should never sacrifice safety for comfort.

Is it okay to wet a face mask to cool it down?

Never wet your mask to cool down. Wetting a mask dramatically reduces filtration efficiency –increasing risk to the wearer. In addition, there is also the possibility that if a wearer is exposed to an arc flash, a wet face mask can add steam which could cause injuries to the face and mouth. These same guidelines apply when wearing a neck gaiter – DO NOT, for any reason, wet the gaiter.

To help make wearing a mask in the summer heat more manageable, bring extra masks so you can swap out if one gets sweaty. Make sure the mask fits snugly but not too tightly, and moisturizer can help to prevent a rash.

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