My Response to COVID-19
I don’t want to take supplies away from our medical personnel but I need access to breathing protection. So I did a lot of research. I am making fabric masks that will not be perfect for virus protection, but will up my level of protection when I have to venture out to get supplies, and will work for me during seasons when pollen, dust and smoke are prevalent.
First of all I am sheltering at home and have since early March. We wash our hands and clean surfaces frequently. We try not to touch our face. We had a family member overseas at the time the virus was acknowledged in North America and we were watching the news reports closely. Thus we were alerted before it was widely broadcast that the virus had arrived. Our son is home and out of self-isolation, so all is well on that front.
At the same time I started to question why we were not being told to wear masks on those occasional ‘essential’ trips to the grocery store, pharmacy, etc. Because I anticipated and shopped for groceries early on, I missed the crowds seeking toilet paper. I have however, started digging into my small condo-sized pantry to prepare meals and supplies do get depleted. Milk, eggs, etc. need to be periodically replenished. We make our own bread, have done so for years, and recently started to make our own yogurt in the Instapot. Thus our trips are infrequent, planned and short. We shop with a list. For exercise we walk locally and the sidewalks are not congested. Those we meet are courteous and we all maintain our six foot separation.
Why do I need a mask?
The question of masks continued to haunt me and I began to research ‘masks’, filtration capabilities, the difference in size between a virus and a dust particle, then eventually, patterns for masks. I am taking a immune system suppressant drug and have used surgical masks during pollen, dust and smoke seasons for years. With spring upon us and the shortage of masks for use by front-line workers, I am seeking a way to limit my need for purchased supplies.
As a result, I determined that I could probably meet ‘my’ needs by continuing to ‘shelter in place’ with limited trips to get supplies. By using certain materials I could boost the effectiveness of a homemade mask to give me partial protection when shopping and later, protection from allergens.
My research discoveries
In a separate post I will share my samples and what I have determined from these prototypes. But here are some links I used after reviewing a number of sources of information that convinced me that I should wear a mask. I then began to research different mask construction ideas, materials, and patterns. In Calgary, all but grocery, pharmacy, fuel and liquor outlets are closed. I needed to use things I could find in the condo and in my ‘art room’.
The first mask I made uses a purchased surgical mask as a basis. It consists of a cover for the hospital mask and may extend its use – if you make several covers and change it each time you use the mask. I have a few left from last year’s allergy season. The covering is washable. The instructions are in video one. Remember that you must handle the covering carefully so that the surface of the cover does not come in contact with the surgical mask and that you do not use your hands on the surface of the inner mask. My thought is that. because of the handling required, it would be best considered a dust or allergy mask although the pattern fits securely on my face and is lined with a non-woven material.
I also used the pattern given in video one to create the hospital masks that I will describe more fully in the second post.
The second and third videos contain a lot of detail about things to consider when making your choice of fabrics and style of mask. There are many good ideas here.
The free pattern in the fourth video provided me with instruction about creating a shaped mask. The prototype I made has a great fit and was my favorite of the three styles. It is interesting to note that there was accommodation in the pattern for different face structures.
All my masks are made with Pellon interfacing backing on the tightly woven cotton. The non-woven interfacing will give me a measure of virus protection but will not be the equivalent of a N95 mask.