BY HERB MEEKER,
Effingham County Public Information Officer
You don’t need a sewing machine or a seamstress in your house to make a homemade face covering to guard against the spread of Coronavirus Disease.
If you have an old T-shirt or bandana then you can get started. If you must get out of your home for buying groceries, medications or other essentials, face masks are now considered a needed protection. Workers at essential businesses should also wear masks if they are coming into contact with customers or other COVID-19 contact risks.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention late last week recommended Americans use face masks to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. CDC indicates that social distancing is still critical with or without a mask. This change in CDC policy on mask use was prompted by a new medical study raising new concerns about the spread of droplets from sneezing or coughing.
Health Care experts remind everyone that the face masks do not offer absolute protection from COVID-19 infection. The best way to stop the spread of the virus is to still follow the stay at home order in Illinois and clean hands thoroughly as well as cleaning household surfaces.
Standards to follow for homemade masks
The Illinois Department of Public Health offered these best practices for making and wearing homemade masks:
- Use materials available at home or buying materials online to avoid exposure in public places.
- Purchase masks made by small businesses, saving medical masks for health care workers and potentially helping the local economy.
- Make masks from materials that will hold up to daily washing and drying. Wash and dry newly sewn masks before using them for the first time.
- Have more than one mask per person so they can be laundered daily. This will also be helpful if your mask becomes wet, damaged, or no longer fits and you need to replace it.
- Wash your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water before putting on a mask, immediately after removing it, or if you touch the mask while using it.
- Ensure the mask fits snugly around your mouth and nose. A metal wire sewn or built into the mask will help it conform to the bridge of your nose.
- Avoid touching the mask while using it. If you do, wash your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub.
- Replace your mask when wet, damaged, or when it no longer fits your face. Masks should not be worn damp or when wet from spit or mucus.
- Try to avoid touching the outer surface of the mask when removing it. Remove the mask by untying it or unfastening the ear loops. Place it in a bag or bin away from small children or pets until it can be laundered.
- Whether you use cotton fabrics, paper-based shop towels, or other materials, try to strike a balance between the materials you already have at home, how easy it will be to breathe while wearing the mask for extended periods away from home, and whether or not you would prefer to craft a new mask every day (paper) or wash and reuse your masks.
Instructions for No-Sew Masks
Homemade masks or coverings can be made quickly by using a portion of the cotton T-shirt, a full-sized bandana, and accessories such as a coffee filter and long rubber bands or hair ties.
When using a T-shirt you start by cutting 7 to 8 inches off the bottom of the shirt. Then cut out the mask portion from one end, about 6 to 7 inches on bottom and top. This produces a mask with strings that should be tied on the back of the neck and over the top of the head.
A bandana cloth covering should include a piece cut from a coffee filter –make sure the filter does not contain materials can could be harmful to breathing. Lay out the bandana in a full square and place the filter piece in the center. Then fold the top and bottom portions of the banana over the filter. Place the rubber bands or hair ties looped through the bandana. Fold the sides of the bandana to the middle and tuck so the bands stick out at the ends. Use the bands or ties as ear loops to secure the covering over your face.
If you prefer a sewn face covering there are many options offered then contact HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital for more information. The hospital has been accepting donations of sewn masks for use in the hospital. N-95 surgical masks are being used by doctors and health care workers to ensure their safety when in contact with patients during the pandemic.