Tuesday, April 14, 2020

How To Fold A Fabric Mask For COVID-19



We are in unprecedented times right now and often I am not even sure what to believe on the internet anymore.

One person says one thing, another organization says another... who do we even believe and trust right now? Where's the guidance, where's the direction, where's the safety for us?

Living in Queens, NY has put me smack-dab in the middle of one of the world's largest hotspots for COVID-19. People I know are being directly impacted by this, and I genuinely feel terrified to leave my apartment.

Who would have thought I'd ever be - so scared - to go to the laundromat or the grocery store?

 I have put both of these things off as long as I possibly can. Wearing every article of clothing I own, even washing them and drying them in my shower, bulk buying groceries and having anything I can have delivered- delivered... All of this just so I don't have to leave my apartment and interact with people.

There, of course, are circumstances in which I need to leave my house. Food and groceries can only last so long, even with rationing efforts and minimalist style cooking, and clothes eventually need to be fully machine washed. I don't have any disposable masks, gloves, or hand sanitizer and it seems nearly impossible to even order these things online - so what is one to do? 



Homemade Fabric Masks

As I mentioned, I am not sure what to believe on the internet. Some say wearing a fabric mask does little to prevent disease spread and others say it's better to have something rather than nothing. 

I tried to read as much as I could, and gather as much information as possible and general consensus shows that it is better to have something. So today I'm bringing the information I have to you. Disclaimer: I am, by no means, any kind of medical professional or scientific person with any merit. I am just someone who is relaying the information she has to the global community, doing my part to create awareness and help during these extremely difficult times. 

It's generally agreed, by infectious disease specialists, that masks are not necessarily designed to prevent one from contracting but more so to stop the spread from a person that already has it. So really, masks should be worn by those that carry the disease to prevent them from spreading it to others. 

Since COVID-19 symptoms take so long to show up, and there are relatively small options for testing the chances you'll know you have it before you are able to stop the spread is essentially impossible. Wearing a mask might just be more good measure to prevent you from spreading it - if you happen to have it and you do know you do.

It seems, though, that masks may help to some degree in the protection of you contracting anything though. The disease-carrying droplets spread by a passerby outside may rest on the outside of your mask and might not make it all the way through to your nose and mouth. 

As long as you do not touch the outside of your mask, and then touch your face/nose/mouth then you increase your chances of protection.

Mask Care and Material

Since disease droplets could be on your mask once you come back from being outside, it is very important to clean your mask right away and like everyone else has said - wash your hands! 

For material, the best kind would be something that is a tightly knit fabric. Loose fabric, with many holes, is not ideal as it leaves room for droplets to pass through. A good test to see how tight/loose your fabric is would be to hold the fabric up to the light. If a lot of light is able to pass through, that indicates that the fabric is pretty loose; if not much light can pass through then you have a tighter fabric which is better!

You can double up, or even triple up on the number of layers you have. It doesn't seem like there is any real science here - again it's just a matter of doing something to protect yourself and others. 

Step 1

Lay out your piece of cloth and two rubber bands. You could also use hair ties, or even string. This is actually one large piece of cloth which I have already folded in half. In this folding method we will be creating several layers by folding the cloth over top of itself. 


Step 2

Set the rubber bands aside for a while then grab the top of the cloth and fold it down towards you so that about 1/3 is left over at the bottom.


Step 3

Grab the bottom of the cloth and fold it up over top of the piece you just folded down. Think of this as how you might fold a letter to fit into an envelope to mail it. Essentially, you're folding the cloth in on itself by 1/3 sections.


Step 4

Take your two rubber bands and slide them on both ends of the cloth. The placement of where these bands are put is going to be approximately where the mask will stop on your cheek going left-right. So for a wider mask, you will put the bands a bit further apart and bring them closer together for a narrower mask. Feel free to experiment here to see what works for you and how it will fit.


Step 5

Grab the left end of the cloth and bring it over to the right. If it reaches - though this is not necessary - but if it reaches you can slide the end under the rubber band on the right. You'll now see that the left rubber band is exposed on the outside. This is where you'll grab it to slide it over your ear. 


Step 6

Grab the right end of the cloth and fold it over towards the left. You'll now see that the right rubber band is exposed as well. This side that is facing you is the side that will be against your face. So you can grab both exposed rubber bands and place the mask directly onto your face. The side of the mask that has been flat on the surface is the side that will be exposed to the outside world. 


Step 7

As you can see, there is no sewing involved. The folds are going to be pressed against your face so this will allow them to stay in place. The rubber bands can be stretch to go over your ears and will hold the mask in its position while you go out in public. 



Conclusion 

This is not a fix-all-of-your-problems mask. This is a mask to be worn when there are no other alternatives. It is a last ditch effort and certainly better than walking out in public fully exposed with nothing covering your nose and mouth. 

Standard precautions should still be followed! Wash your hands continuously, especially after close interactions with people and before food preparations or any other times you may be at risk of contracting something. 

Once you've arrived back to your home from going outside - shed off all of your clothes and set them in a specified bag to be washed. 

I am fortunate to be sitting inside my NYC apartment while so many others are out there working, forced to do the duties that keep people alive and keep the world running. THANK YOU to everyone who is on the front lines and putting themselves at risk while trying to take care of the rest of us. 

I am doing absolutely everything I can to mitigate my risk as well as risk to others, and I encourage everyone to do the same. 

Take care and stay healthy my friends - Namaste

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