In recent government announcements regarding public health, officials have asked for everyone to start wearing masks in public spaces to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The idea isn’t that it will protect you from being infected. The idea is that you can protect others by catching the droplets from your mouth and nose in a mask and preventing yourself from spreading it. We all have a chance to be someone’s hero here.
“Well, I’m not sick,” you may be thinking.
Even if you’re not sick wearing a mask is a good idea. Aside from COVID-19 having a long incubation period — up to 15 days after being exposed before symptoms start to manifest — scientists are also learning some people are asymptomatic and show no symptoms at all once they’ve been infected. In both cases, one individual could unknowingly and unintentionally infect hundreds of people by going to the grocery store or stopping at the gas station.
How to make protective masks from a T-shirt
Personal protective equipment or PPE, as it’s been abbreviated, is in short supply, so people have had to get creative. Two recommendations for making a mask at home, that I like, involve using the top and bottom portions of a T-shirt. I like these methods because most people will have the required supplies at home already and they are easy to make.
Method 1 — The top of the T-shirt
- Paper towel
- Permanent marker
Method 1 — T-shirt face mask
- Lay your T-shirt flat so that all the edges are lined up.
- Just under the pits of the T-shirt, draw a straight dotted line from one side of the shirt to the other. Also, mark off where you’ll be cutting on both sleeves, drawing a semi-oval from the edges just over the seam (see photos).
- Next, cut on the dotted line that runs under one pit to the other side of the T-shirt.
- Cut out the semi-ovals you drew on each sleeve.
- Place a paper towel between the layers of your T-shirt mask to act as a filter for any droplets you exhale.
- Positioning the collar of the shirt at the bottom or towards your chin, tie the strap at the top of the mask around your face at the back of your head.
- Grab the longer straps on the bottom of the mask and pull them straight up, tying them on top of your head.
Method 2 — The bottom of the T-shirt
- Remaining bottom portion of the T-shirt you used in method 1
- 2 rubber bands
Method 2 — T-shirt face mask
- Lay the bottom portion of the T-shirt flat, lining up the edges.
- Fold the top edge down about halfway.
- Fold the bottom edge up to meet the top edge. Both edges should meet in about the middle of the piece of fabric you’re using. Adjust as needed.
- Flip the folded T-shirt over, so that the folded edges are face down and repeat steps 2 and 3.
- Flip the folded T-shirt, so that the original side is facing up.
- Put both rubber bands around the T-shirt — one on each side.
- Fold the left and right edges in to hold the rubber bands in place.
- Stretch the rubber bands over each ear, with the right and left folded edges facing in towards your face.
Both mask-making ideas were taken from videos. Links to both videos are below.
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