Buying Masks for Your Business? Stay Safe with these 5 Tips
Every time a product is purchased online, there’s always a risk of an undesirable outcome. What if you get the wrong thing? What if it takes too long to ship? What if it doesn’t come at all? With so much uncertainty, it is hard to judge what the right choices are when making an online order, especially when considering a purchase of business necessities like masks. Here are our top tips to ensure your online order goes smoothly.
Check for classification
Perhaps one of the most important things to do before purchasing a mask is to check for the classification. Many consumers fail to realize there are varying degrees of strengths and protection when it comes to medical or non-medical grade respirators. These classifications include but are not limited to N95, KN95, Surgical N95, Surgical KN95, and generic surgical masks. N95 and KN95 masks are proven to filter out 95% of all airborne particles down to .3 Microns! While the surgical variants possess identical filtration capabilities, they also prevent pressurized particles, such as someone sneezing nearby, from entering the mask. When it comes to viruses such as COVID-19, the surgical designation is less important as some masks are literally designed for operational surgeries. As confusing as it may be, there are also surgical masks that are not “95” certified. These are not proven to protect the user from external forces, but rather to protect others from the user wearing the mask.
Many times, consumers unknowingly purchase nonclassified masks such as homemade or cloth masks as well. While these options may still offer some level of protection, there is no tangible research to determine user risk.
Check for certification
Once a choice has been made regarding the classification of your desired mask, it’s time to double-check certifications. N95’s will always be NIOSH and CDC approved, but make sure the provider you are buying from has the documentation in their name for production. For help finding N95 suppliers, click here: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npptl/topics/respirators/disp_part/n95list1.html
KN95’s are a bit different from N95’s. Typically produced outside of the US, KN versions are more affordable, but have to be certified by the FDA as authentic. Because they are not produced stateside, there are often certifications given out for production approval as well. In layman's terms, the facilities are checked by governments to ensure a controlled environment. Be sure to once again check for documentation in the distributor’s name.
Verify the masks production and/or point of origination
After checking over classifications and certifications, you can be confident in the authenticity of the product being purchased! But wait, did you double-check where it’s coming from and how long it will take? Many KN mask orders come from Europe and Asia. While more affordable, the production and shipment are…. well, not fast. Sometimes you may choose between air and sea delivery, but regardless wait times often exceed 60-90 days! Plan ahead and be conscious of the potential wait times!
Look out for minimum order quantity requirements
Wouldn't you love to order an unlimited number of masks for free? While this may solve many problems, each distributor, unfortunately, has its own rules regarding how many masks are to be purchased within each transaction. Some distributors may not have a minimum, but many do. Typically, the more masks ordered, the more affordable each mask will be. Be sure to check on the requirements and total cost for each quantity before proceeding.
Be sure the purchase fits your needs
So you checked for classification, certification, production location, and minimum order quantity, but there’s one last step. Does the purchase you have put together fit your needs? While some masks may ship sooner, maybe they don't filter for what you require. While other masks have the protection you need, maybe you can't afford enough. Whatever the case may be, be sure to shop around different distributors to find the perfect scenario! In a time of high demand, the number of suppliers will increase enabling you to find the right supplier and product to fit your needs.
With these simple tips, you will be well on your way to getting what you need.