With the Coronavirus COVID-19 taking over the world, many people are looking at ways to protect themselves and their family and friends.
One way to protect yourself and others is by wearing a face mask. Now there is a lot of controversial about home made face mask. Also, the thing is that it is not a N95 mask. Another is, that home made face masks are not regulated and will do nothing to protect you from the Coronavirus COVID-19.
N95 compaired to homemade
First of all, home made cotton face masks are not meant to replace the N95 masks. The virus particle that causes the disease COVID-19 is very small, even a N95 mask is only able to block 95% (!) of those viruses.
N95 masks are one time use only. Cotton masks can be washed and re-used. N95 masks are regulated and sterilized. Cotton face masks are not regulated and not sterile. N95 masks are meant for health professionals only. Cotton masks can be worn by anyone.
So far some of the differences between the two types of masks.
Effectiveness of masks
How ever, all over the world hospitals are reporting a shortage of the N95 mask. And many hospitals are asking for the DIY homemade cloth masks to add to their supply of protective gear. Cotton face masks can filter out about 50% of germs.
Adding a non woven material like tissue paper, may increase its effectiveness. Quote:” It found that a normal face mask plus tissue papers or handkerchief stuffed inside could screen as much as 75 to 90 per cent of dangerous airborne dust particles smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter, known as PM2.5.”
Should you wear a mask?
Only health care professionals should wear the N95 mask. So what about everyone else? Is it beneficial for the rest of us to wear a mask? And what kind of mask is better?
Washington Post mentions in an article that wearing a mask can help. Mostly, because it prevents droplets with the virus to spread to others. Quote: “Studies have documented definitively that in controlled environments like airplanes, people with masks rarely infect others and rarely become infected themselves, while those without masks more easily infect others or become infected themselves.”
Note: a droplet is expelled when a person coughs or sneezes and may contain infectious material.
Not everyone thinks a home made mask is effective. Health Canada‘s recommendation is against wearing home made masks. I agree that a home made mask is not enough to protect against COVID-19. However in combination with hand washing, frequent cleaning of surfaces and social distancing it maybe just enough to help flatten the curve. Which is good enough for me to make these masks!
Making a face mask
Google and Pinterest offer many ideas and tutorials on how to make your own face mask.
I choose the pattern from Owensboro Health, thinking if a hospital wants these, they should be good to make. Later I found this wonderful tutorial by KPEA design, which shows how to sew them very clearly.
I like the fitted mask, because I think the fit is far superior over the surgical mask. Also, if you are not used to wear a face mask, fitting it properly may be a challenge.
See here for instructions on donning and doffing a face mask properly.
This picture shows the face masks in the making. However, it took a bit of time to cut them all out.
Because it did not take long to run out of elastic, I started making straps. First I cut 2 inch strips. Then sewed the ends. I ironed the strips in half, then folded them over and ironed again. This way it is easier to sew the strap to the face mask.
It took me most of the afternoon to make these, however it does cut down a lot in sewing them. So in the end it was worth the effort.
Alway, wash, dry and iron your cloth facemark before wearing. Ironing will help sterilize the mask, thus killing most harmful germs. This includes the COVID-19, which also seems to be sensitive to heat. Replace your mask when it gets damp, germs like moisture to grow. The last thing you want is getting sick from wearing a cloth face mask! These masks have a pocket into which you can insert tissue paper to enhance their effectiveness.
So here it is, home made DIY face masks. I have been giving them out to anyone who wants them. Stay healthy!
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Update October 16, 2020
Since I wrote this article I have made over 1000 face masks. With at least half of these given away. I also updated the design for the masks and added elastic. We are still in the middle of the pandemic. For a long time numbers rose dramatically, then cases tapered off. As we are approaching fall, we are seeing a renewed increase in numbers.
In my opinion, wearing a face mask to protect yourself and other people is crucial in slowing down this virus. Sadly not everyone thinks the same, and thus are risking loved ones getting infected.
Stay safe, stay healthy!