Got the face mask, what about the kids?

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KATE MEIKLE faces the facts and get a P2 mask… but not for her children. How does that work?

THE slow but continually steady deterioration of our air quality has given Canberra the frightening  title of worst in the world for several days.

Writer Kate Meikle models the latest Canberra fashion accessory… the P2 face mask!

For those families like mine who have stayed in town, it’s been a challenging and worrying time.

Yes, we are thankfully safe from immediate fire danger at present but the feelings of concern and helplessness as family and friends battle fires, get stuck on their way home or face health issues is taking its toll.

Most parents will be naturally concerned as I am about the health impacts of the smoke on our small children and have been doing what I have been – double checking their breathing during the night and doing all we can to keep them indoors and occupied.

Our time has been spent racing the kids in and out of the car and into play centres, cinemas and any public institution that is open at the moment. We are running out of ideas!

As I anxiously check my air quality app on my
phone for some reassurance, the maroon-coloured “hazardous” rating with the icon of a person wearing a mask appears with the advice to wear a mask when outdoors.

So my mind is now preoccupied on masks. Perhaps I have been too late to the party to decide to buy one as supplies have run low over recent days and now are back in stock at chemists and hardwares today.

One friend lined up for one and a half hours to buy one early on Friday morning, suffering from respiratory issues. Half the guests at my son’s birthday celebration on that day arrived in masks. Some of the kids wore some as well.

My first instinct was to also buy a mask for our two children to help in any way to protect them. But, as authorities have advised, children should not wear one.

It seems I am not alone in wanting my kids to have a mask. On Saturday, Capital Chemist Charnwood pharmacist Samantha Kourtis issued a video via social media which has had 12,900 views outlining the reasons why masks of any kind are not safe for children and infants to use.

She addressed that customers had been reporting to her that people have been adapting adult masks to try to fit their children’s faces and urged people not to attempt this:

“There is actually no safe mask for little people,” she says.

“Little people do not have enough strength in their respiratory flow to bring enough air into that mask into their lungs. And we are very concerned that while we are very keen to keep our loved ones safe, putting (these kind) of masks on an infant may lead to adverse affects…” she says.

So heeding Samantha’s reassuring advice, I purchased masks  for myself, my husband and his parents. We feel odd putting them on in front of the kids as it goes against the “fit your mask before helping your children” mantra from airline safety announcements but we will keep the kids inside as best we can in the meantime.

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Kate Meikle
Kate Meikle is a staff reporter for "CityNews"

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