Don’t Have A Mask? You Can Make One, But Use It Sparingly & Only When Absolutely Necessary!

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As a science teacher, I have shared the video above with my family and friends through social media, emails, texts, and phone calls. There has been a lot of controversy over masks because healthcare workers need them and masks are only a tool. As a tool, masks only work well if used correctly. Reusing masks is an additional risk and should only be done with great care.

There is a massive shortage of N95 masks due to the COVID-19 pandemic caused by the coronavirus. Masks are being prioritized for health care workers, sick people, and the elderly. If you cannot get a mask, you can make one in a variety of ways. Some protection is better than no protection. We should all consider donating quality masks to healthcare workers and then making the best possible home-made masks that we can.

Internationally, wearing masks is much more common. For example, places like China have horrendous air pollution so masks are common there.

The mask protects you, and it protects others from you. 25% of people with coronavirus do not show any symptoms. For the other 75% of cases, symptoms often take more than 5 days to occur and those people are spreading the disease while looking healthy. A mask, when used properly, will keep you from touching your face, mouth, and nose. Goggles or face shields are also recommended. They will reduce the touching of the face, too. You would be surprised how easy it is to make a face shield.

When you get home after an outing, take off your protective gear, and place it carefully in an area far away from your living area. I take mine off in the side yard and leave them there for several days. Preferably in the sun. Take off your shoes outside, then take a hot shower. Masks can be heated in the oven at 160 degrees for 30 minutes to sanitize them. I prefer to leave my masks in the sun for 2 days before I bring them into my house, but I am only leaving my house 1-2 times per month.

Do not be overconfident with a homemade mask! It should be a last resort and should be used sparingly. By sparingly, I mean stay at home as your primary line of defense. Do not leave your home because you are confident in your store-bought mask or your homemade mask. The video does an excellent job describing how to make a homemade mask, how to improve an existing mask, how to use a mask, and how the mask can be expected to perform.

Here is what the Center for Disease Control (CDC) says about homemade masks (in regards to a hospitable setting as many hospital workers have had to use home-made masks because of mask shortages).

“Use of homemade masks:

“In areas where face masks are not available, HCP (healthcare professionals) might use homemade masks (e.g., bandana, scarf) for care of patients with COVID-19 as a last resort. However, homemade masks are not considered PPE, since their capability to protect HCP is unknown. Caution should be exercised when considering this option. Homemade masks should ideally be used in combination with a face shield that covers the entire front (that extends to the chin or below) and sides of the face.”

Cloth masks are not as good as some other homemade mask options. To mitigate spread of coronavirus in or out of a mask, the mask must prevent the passage of liquid droplets. Cloth only traps about 50% of liquid particles. We want masks that trap liquid particles suspended in the air. The video explains how to do a simple test on your homemade mask.

Masks also keep us from touching our mouth, nose, and face. Additionally, hair should be covered, as the virus can attach to your hair. I have a military-style buzz cut. I also used the hair clippers to “buzz” my arms. Women with long hair should tie it back at the very least. Additionally, they should cover their hair. Hair can be covered in numerous ways. It has been cool enough for me to wear a hooded shirt.

Vacuum bags may block as much as 93% of liquid particles. The video shows you how to test various materials like napkins, paper towels, cloth, etc. Certain thick, dense napkins appear to be better than porous paper towels. Watch the video to see how to test different materials at home that you may be able to use to fashion the best DIY mask possible.

The mask most in demand is the N95 mask. Hopefully, the production of N95 masks has been accelerated, but the medical community needs these masks. By the way, the ‘N95’ designation means that when subjected to careful testing, the respirator blocks at least 95 percent of very small (0.3 micron) test particles.

Here is another article about homemade masks. It is another creative design and uses simple materials that are easy to get.

Remember there are thousands of ways to make a mask if your supplies are limited.

If you think your mask is infected it should be discarded or left in sunlight to be disinfected. At this time, cleaning masks is a tricky issue but it is an issue hospitals are looking at. Getting your mask wet will degrade its ability to filter incoming and outgoing air.

In hospitals, masks are generally discarded after each contact with a patient. You should refrain from touching the mask, and put it on by touching only its straps. You should consider your mask contaminated after being in a public area and handle it with great care.

On a side note, if someone in your home is sick, masks should be used when two people are in the same room. Sick persons should stay in one room or one area of the home. Common areas should be restricted as much as possible. If you have two bathrooms, make one for the sick and the other for the healthy. The healthy should do all the cooking. It’s possible to divide homes or buildings into different areas. For example, my 68-year-old mother is staying with my wife and me after her flight was canceled and air flight remains too risky. Should any of us get sick, I will leave the entire first floor for my mother. We will enter the home through separate entrances and we will not share any common areas.

Additionally, this video explains the virus in general and is a good link.

As better information comes in about masks, we will update this article. I only shared the videos I like best, and I encourage you to look for other videos and sources. You will find contradictions, but the best advice is generally repeated by the best sources.

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Kurt Lowder

I am a jock turned wannabe geek. I fell in love with science later in life thanks to the History Channel show the “Universe.” Having taught middle school science, I strongly feel Astronomy should be taught every year because nothing excites students more than learning about the cosmos. I became an avid cleantech fan because it gives me hope about the future. My wife, my dogs, and I live simply because we love to travel the world backpacker style.

Kurt Lowder has 58 posts and counting. See all posts by Kurt Lowder