How to Make Masks and Face Coverings from Home

Masks are selling out around the world, so make your own to protect yourself and others

Homemade masks can help stop the spread of Covid-19. (Lisa & Nicole Hedmark)

When the COVID-19 pandemic first began, people all over the world started wearing medical and N95 masks. Stores sold out worldwide after the virus was declared a pandemic, as people began hoarding hundreds of packs of masks. Hospitals even began to see shortages, and health workers across the country feared what would happen to them if the number of infected people in hospitals began to rise.

Luckily, British Columbia has seen fewer cases than Eastern Canada, but we must continue to take precautions to help fully eradicate the virus.

The Centre of Disease Control and Prevention has recommended the use of cloth face masks and face coverings to slow the spread of the virus. Social distancing and washing your hands frequently are still the most proven and effective ways of flattening the curve, but if one must leave home, they are encouraged to wear a face mask or covering.

Cloth masks are meant to protect the public more than the wearer, as they trap the wearer’s infectious respiratory droplets. Asymptomatic spreaders are the biggest risk to public health. Many trials and tests have been done with health workers wearing cloth masks or medical masks and medical masks have been proven to protect the wearer better, but any sort of covering protects the rest of the public from the wearer’s potentially infectious respiration. During the SARS outbreak, another type of coronavirus, medical masks and N95 masks reduced the spread of infection by up to 80 per cent, according to a study done by MD Mark Loeb.

According to the CDC, face coverings should fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face, be secured with ties or ear loops, include multiple layers of fabric, allow for breathing without restriction, and be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape.

The CDC also reminds face mask-wearers to wash masks often and take precautions when taking the mask off, making sure to not touch your nose or eyes. Of course, they also recommend that you wash your hands after handling your face mask or covering.

The CDC’s website includes instructions on making your own sewn and no-sew fabric face masks. Materials you will need include two 10-inch-by six-inch rectangles of cotton fabric (an old t-shirt or bandana works), two six-inch pieces of elastic (or rubber bands, string, cloth strips, or hair ties), a needle and thread (or bobby pin), and scissors.

Extra filters and protections can be added to your home-made masks as well. Coffee filters, vacuum bags, and even a paper towel tucked into your mask can provide a layer of disposable protection. Adding extra designs and features to your mask is also a great and productive way to spend your free time during quarantine. There are hundreds of face mask designs, patterns, and videos online, so find which one works best for your face shape and make sure to wear one whenever you leave the house.

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