Face Masks & Corona Virus: What can you do to help prevent the spread of the virus?

Wil Rickards

On Friday Jared Polis Governor for Colorado asked people to use cloth face masks when out in public. Regardless of your politics, this is just wise. Colorado companies had already mobilized to make them. Outdoor favorites MelanzanaOspreyPhunkshun, and Topo Designs along with a few others. Denver Mattress Company hopes to produce between 3 to 5,000 a day. Governor Polis himself modeled behavior by wearing a natty little number by Phunkshun.

Wil about to go outside wearing a trusty BUFF. Know he is wearing it for you and smiling underneath

Wil about to go outside wearing a trusty BUFF. Know he is wearing it for you and smiling underneath

As folks who enjoy the outdoors, we understand the concept of risk. We do not remove it, we mitigate it. If I do not want to expose myself to any danger, I stay at home. I do not drive anywhere. I do not indulge in activities with any hazards involved.

Managing risk is about balancing the consequences of an action with its likelihood. We also want to weigh risks of loss with risks of gain. What we know about today’s world is that the consequences changed over a matter of days. I am no longer managing the outcomes of my actions for myself. I now have to think about how they impact others.

Whereas two weeks ago I was still backcountry skiing. I now contemplate how my traveling will affect whole communities. If there was to be an accident, what would the ramifications be to dozens of others? Quite frankly, I do not wish to go to a hospital and I do not want to cause others to fail to socially distance.

So now I am exploring my neighborhood by bike. It is wonderful. I have found all kinds of places I did not know existed. I am looking after my fitness and mental health. There is a downside though. Sometimes, when I am riding I struggle to maintain the 6-foot distance required.

This is especially the case in high volume areas at popular times of the day. I have now changed some of my habits to avoid this. Trails are often only 6 feet wide and my handlebars cause me to encroach towards the center of the trail. Now I have reduced this by more than a foot. If others do not make space then I am often passing within 3 feet. The virus also has the potential to be suspended in the air for a matter of minutes.

Face Masks & Corona Virus: What can you do to help prevent the spread of the virus?

Thus I am open to coming into contact with it. Even worse as an active person I may have it, be unaware and spreading it to others. According to the CDC, up to 1 in 4 people infected with COVID-19 lack symptoms.

So whether like me, you dig out an old BUFF or you make a mask it is worth following Governor Polis’ advice. “This should be part of everybody’s personal hygiene practices and social distancing measures.” As the BUFF website suggests, do not consider a cloth mask to be a complete solution. Use it in conjunction with the other advice provided by the CDC. Make sure you double up the fabric. Wash the mask and your hands on returning home. Make sure you understand how to use a cloth mask so that it is effective (read the CDC page linked below). And please, donate any surgical masks to your local health authority. People working on the frontline need them.

For more information:

Check out BUFF’s COVID-19 statement – a rational view from a manufacturer’s perspective

Read the CDC page on cloth masks – Good information and designs to make your own

Visit Colorado Mask Project’s website – a proactive and science-based approach

Note the information available changes daily. Please revisit these websites to maintain currency. And when this is all over, remember who the proactive companies were. The ones who did things for our communities. They are the ones we want to buy from.

Wil Rickards

Wil Rikards

Wil was born in North Wales and steeped in its rich maritime, mountain and river folklore. In response to the request to “get a real job” he became first a teacher then professor of adventure education.

He then emigrated to where the sun shines for 300 days and snowfalls for 100 (Colorado). During more than 25 years as an outdoor educator, he worked Scottish winter seasons, taught canoeing, climbing, kayaking, and skiing throughout the States, Europe, and Australia. He also regenerated the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Outdoor Education program. His biggest adventure (by far) is fatherhood. It has also been the inspiration for his website www.wherethefruitis.com.

Things he likes to do include (middle) aging gracefully, and skiing (telemark) aggressively. He is happiest outdoors with a good view, good company, good weather/snow and the residue of self-powered adventure; sweat, a manic grin, and wild eyes.

Wil Rikards

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