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Nobody knows whether face masks or respirators really protect against swine flu. But experts saythere is evidence that face masks offer some protection against H1NI or swine flu virus from spreading.One study shows that when there is a sick family member in the house, others could cut their risk of getting sick by 60% to 80% by using face masks consistently and correctly.

Face masks rated as N95 masks -- technically called respirators -- should theoretically work better than surgical masks, which fit more loosely. 

WHO SHOULD WEAR FACE MASKS

• Wear an N95 respirator if helping a sick person.
• If you have got swine flu, wear a face mask before going near other people.
• If you are well, but live in a household with someone who has swine flu, wear a face mask before going near other people. 
• If swine flu is widespread in your community, you may consider wearing a face mask when in a crowded place.

HOW TO USE THE FACE MASKS

• Before putting on a face mask, wash your hands thoroughly.
• Don’t touch the outside of the face mask while you’re wearing it or when you take it off.
• Use disposable face masks only once, then -- holding them by the bands or ties, not the front of the mask -- throw them in the trash. Don’t let the used mask touch anything else.
• After taking off a face mask, wash your hands thoroughly.