Face masks are seen everywhere at the moment. Because of the global pandemic, there are people wearing face masks everywhere, from supermarkets to buses. There are some great ones available – pretty fabric ones, R Shield ones, even the fashion houses have been designing their own masks. Throughout history, there have been a few other times when people have felt the need to use masks.
In world war 2, gas masks were provided to civilians due to the risk of air raids. It was a common in world war 2 to suddenly need to don a gas mask at a moments notice, when air raid sirens sounded. Children would carry them to school in small cases, a little like suitcases, so they were prepared wherever they went!
During the cold war, worries of impending nuclear war prompted some people to obtain masks that offered some protection from fallout. In America, Duck and Cover was practised in schools – masks were not given out, the children practiced hiding under their desks when the alarm sounded. Many people also went a step further than masks and had full radiation protection suits made, as well as their own personal fallout shelters!
During the 17th century plague, the doctors would wear an odd-looking mask that resembled a bird’s beak. The whole outfit was actually a fairly terrifying sight, the wide hat and the long can were to allow the examination of patients from a distance – the 17th century form of social distancing! The beak like mask supposedly protected the doctors from the odours caused by the plague, which was how they believed it was transferred.