What to do if you don't have a face mask
As the coronavirus pandemic continues, AccuWeather spoke with health expert Dr. Shan Soe-Lin who says Americans may need to continue wearing the mask.
Even before there was a big reversal on wearing face masks in public from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), they were hard to find. Buying the face masks from Amazon or other top retailers has you on a months-long waiting list and even that’s not guaranteed that you will get a face mask. Many people are now forced to come up with backup plans in trying to track down face masks to ward off the spread of COVID-19. The new CDC guidance does not call for Americans to use surgical masks or N95 respirator masks, which officials hope to stockpile and preserve for medical professionals on the frontlines as hospitals are facing short Personal Protective Equipment (PPE.) To follow along with these face mask guidelines, you may have to get crafty and create your own.
Photo by Alex Iby
What can I use as a face mask?
The California Department of Public Health suggests you can use the following items to make cloth face masks:
Photo by Engin Akyurt
Face mask safety tips
Once you have the material to use to make the cloth face masks, the CDC says they should meet the following criteria:
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
Be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape
Photo by Claudio Schwarz
Who shouldn’t wear a face mask?
The CDC strongly urges the following people to NOT wear a cloth face mask:
Children under 2 years of age
Anyone with trouble breathing
Anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance
Photo by Kelly Sikkema
How to make a cloth face mask
Now that you have all of the material to make a cloth face mask, it’s time to get to work. Unless you’re a master clothier or seamstress, you’ll probably need a little help with a pattern. If that’s the route you want to take, there are plenty of tutorials on YouTube that can take you step by step through creating a cloth face mask. If you’re all thumbs and not handy at all with sewing, lucky for you there are several no-sew options for making a cloth mask.
If you’re using a bandana, follow these tips from CDC.
Photo by Stevepb
Caring for your cloth face mask
Now that you have your cloth face mask finished, it’s important to know how to care for it. Health experts urge you to do the following when cleaning your cloth face mask:
Wash cloth face masks after each use, or at least daily
Place the cloth mask in a bag or bin until it can be washed
A regular washing machine and dryer will be sufficient for cleaning cloth face masks
For the washing machine setting, use hot water and plenty of detergent to clean the cloth face mask
For the dryer setting, dry the cloth face mask on a hot cycle
Photo by Ä?ông Viá»?n f
Reusing the cloth face mask
The cloth face mask should only be reused before washing under extreme circumstances. If you have to reuse the mask:
Wash your hands immediately after putting the cloth face mask back on and avoid touching your face
Throw away any cloth faces masks that no longer adequately cover your nose or mouth
Toss any face mask that has holes or tears in the fabric
Photo by Edward Jenner
How to safely remove a cloth face mask
When removing the cloth face mask, the CDC offers the following tips:
Do not touch your eyes, nose, and mouth when removing the cloth face mask
Wash your hands immediately after removing the cloth face mask
Photo by David Zalubowski
Wearing the cloth face mask should not replace social distancing. In fact, the guidance of staying at least 6 feet away from other people may need a revision after a M.I.T. researcher found evidence that 20 feet may need to be the new rule. Professor Lydia Bourouiba’s research found that respiratory droplets from coughing and sneezing can actually travel 23 to 27 feet!
With no end in immediate sight to coronavirus’ deadly spread across the globe, it’s critically important to stay up to date on the latest guidance at the local, state, and federal levels. AccuWeather has in-depth coverage of COVID-19 from around the globe. You can track the coronavirus spread on an interactive map right down to your city, plus stay on top of the newest developments with information that is updated around the clock. If you’re on the go, take our COVID-19 coverage with you. AccuWeather has launched a new podcast focused on coronavirus that you can listen to here. We’re also constantly providing new information on our Twitter and Facebook social media pages.
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