Should I Purchase Personal Protective Equipment Such As Facemasks or N95 Respirators For Me and My Family?

Should I Purchase Personal Protective Equipment Such As Facemasks or N95 Respirators For Me and My Family

If you are seeing people around you gloriously wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), respiratory face masks, and glasses and wondering whether you should buy yourself and your family the same, then you are not alone. Many people are worried if they are unknowingly putting themselves at risk of contact with COVID-19 and if they need to take more protective measures. This is a very reasonable concern.

Respiratory Masks

Respiratory masks are shown to be highly efficacious in preventing the transmission of airborne infections like influenza and tuberculosis. For the same reason, surgical masks were highly advocated for preventing COVID transmission in over a hundred countries since the beginning of the pandemic. Still, there is no sufficient evidence to prove the efficacy of masks against COVID transmission to ascertain whether it should be adopted as a major public health policy. It has been shown that the rate of transmission is lower in countries that have adopted universal mask policy since the beginning. US states that had mandatory mask policy also showed lower rates of transmission than those without it.  

Similar studies have been done in some other countries that showed similar trends. So it is probably a good idea to get yourself and your family members a few surgical masks. Those are inexpensive and do a good job of protecting people from coronavirus. It is essential that you do not wear the same masks for more than two days. Initially, the supply chain of surgical masks seemed challenging because of the increased demands. Still, now masks are fairly readily available even in most low- and middle-income countries. Simple surgical masks are shown to do just as good a job as N95 masks by multiple studies. 

You might as well buy yourself a few more surgical masks than going for N95! It is better to purchase fitting surgical masks with multiple layers and inner filter pockets without exhalation vents.

Masks should be worn at home if someone at home has been tested positive for COVID. It is still okay to wear the masks at home to make sure. Athletes travel in biological bubbles where they only come in contact with a certain number of people who have tested negative during the travel. This method was applied in many workplaces at the beginning of the pandemic and is still in practice. Masks should be worn while being in such biological bubbles as well. 

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

While PPE also includes masks, we tend to refer PPE to the gowns, aprons, eye protection, and shoe covers. They are generally used by healthcare workers and those people whose jobs involve a high risk of exposure. It is mandatory that doctors, nurses, and other people working in health care centers use a complete PPE set while interacting with patients, especially those with proven or suspected coronavirus infection. It is also essential to use a full PPE set during surgical and medical procedures with the risk of transmission of body fluids. Different types of personal protective equipment are available at

However, a complete set PPE is not recommended for individuals in jobs other than previously mentioned. If you visit someone in a hospital with COVID or some other disease that increases the risk of infection, you might need a complete set PPE. Otherwise, one does not need to buy a complete set PPE. It is vital to use goggles to prevent transmission from the eyes. Although the transmission rates through the eyes have been proven to be low, it is still one of the routes of transmission.

In many countries, the workplace must provide proper PPE to its employees. In jobs involving exposure, PPE, including masks, gloves, and goggles, are mandatory. The employers must provide PPE depending on the likelihood of contracting an infection, and the type of PPE that best protects their employees should be selected. In the US, employees can refuse to come to work or even file a complaint if the workplace is refusing to provide adequate protective equipment. Some laws dictate that employers can record the temperature of employees, given that the reading remains confidential. However, they cannot ask if any of the family members of their employees have contacted coronavirus though they can ask if any of the employees have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19. 


A number of vaccines have been approved for use by the general public recently. They are shown to be fairly effective and not having a lot of adverse effects. You need to get yourself, and your family members vaccinated at your nearest available health centers. A complete dose of the vaccine is very essential. Even after getting vaccinated, you need to keep wearing masks and maintaining the norms of social distancing.   

PPE concerns

The concerns of people regarding the appropriate use of PPE at home, workplace, and outside are justifiable and indicate proper health-seeking behavior during the pandemic. Social distancing, washing of hands with alcohol-based soap or solution, and proper isolation of infected individuals are the key to the containment of this pandemic. 

Coming back to the original question, should all people get a complete set PPE, the short answer is no. But everyone needs to wear surgical masks at all times and should be following the rules of social distancing. Surgical masks are not any less effective than N95 masks. It is vital to change the surgical masks at regular intervals. They are called disposable masks for a reason. 

If your work involves exposure to a lot of possibly infected people, then it is mandatory to use PPE that is best suited for your exposure profile. The workplace should follow proper COVID safety guidelines and provide PPE that is the best fit for their employees.  It is better to use eye protection, masks, and gloves while traveling in public vehicles. The newly approved vaccines are showing promising results and might be critical in the containment of the pandemic. Even after getting vaccinated, people need to keep wearing masks and limit contact with as few people as possible.