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Homemade face masks safety detailed by health district

Grant County Health District has detailed how to use homemade masks effectively to avoid exposure to coronavirus.

An April 4 press release explains how the masks can be effective in protecting yourself from exposure to coronavirus infected droplets, as well as how to remove them and clean them.

“All of us involved in the COVID-19 response know that protecting our health workers and first responders is vital for each and every one of us,” the health states. “That is why our limited supplies of commercial Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) have been reserved for them. But we want our residents to feel safe and help with slowing the spread of COVID-19 too. Your Health District is supportive of wearing your homemade masks and face coverings when out in public.”

“It is important to note that public masking is not a substitution for social distancing and limiting your interactions with other households and co-workers. We want to reinforce the message that masks should not make us feel too safe, and reduce our attention to handwashing, surface cleaning, social distancing, and other critical measures.”

“Until supplies of commercially made masks are available, members of the public who want masks should be using homemade ones. These can be just as effective at stopping infective droplets as surgical masks. (N95 masks are used by health care workers because they are protective for finer particles, but even in health care, these masks are not required most of the time.) Masks with three layers of cotton material will work. They can have elastic ear loops or ties that go around the back of the head.

If you aren’t able to sew a mask, you can use something such as a cotton scarf or bandana folded into three layers that will cover your nose and mouth and tied behind your head. This will work, too.

“But here’s a caution. Once you have worn one for a while — certainly after a day’s use — be careful when removing it not to touch its outside surface. That’s where the virus will be if the mask is actually helping. Wash those used masks in hot water and dry them on high heat – that will kill the virus. And if you have a collection of used masks, treat them as contaminated by carefully dropping them into a sealable plastic bag until you can carefully dump them into a washing machine. Then throw the bag in a garbage can. In health care, we know that taking off PPE carelessly is as risky as wearing it incorrectly, so use special care when you have finished with the mask. Of course, used gowns should be treated with the same caution as used masks.

Sewing patterns for masks, and also for gowns, which you might want to wear if taking care of a sick relative, can be found online:

No-sew mask from a bandana:


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