The mask shortage for medical workers is real and getting worse by the hour — we want to help and so do the millions of Kids Activities Blog readers!
It’s so bad, in fact, that the CDC has created guidelines for extending the use of face masks, and what to do when masks simply aren’t available.
What you may not expect is that Kids Activities Blog has two physicians on staff!
Health care providers have been reaching out online and to their communities for homemade medical masks that can be washed and reused. Many individuals stuck at home have jumped in to use their sewing skills to help.
But we wondered how those of us who can’t sew could join the effort.
CDC Guidelines for Homemade Face Masks
So what does the CDC have to say about these homemade masks?
The guidelines spell it out simply: Their capability to protect is unknown, so use with caution and only as a last resort.
But nurses and other medical workers have shared that they are wearing these homemade masks on the outside of their surgical masks or N95 respirators to extend the usefulness of this necessary medical equipment.
Something Is Better Than Nothing
As a former Army flight surgeon and combat veteran, I’ve served in austere environments where we did not get resupply for months. I understand what “last resort” or something-is-better-than-nothing really looks like… and something can be much MUCH better than nothing, no matter how ridiculous it may look.
This morning I was watching the news and making coffee when I realized I was looking at the materials for potentially hundreds of disposable masks in my kitchen cupboard — coffee filters!
According to the CDC, the N95 respirators can function for a complete 8 hour shift, but the key is to “reduce surface contamination of the respirator,” taking steps such as using a cleanable face shield over the respirator or masking the patients.
A simple makeshift mask made from coffee filters could be used as a last-resort additional layer of protection — over a surgical mask or N95 respirator, or for the patient to reduce airborne droplets from coughing and sneezing.
This also applies to taking care of an ill family member who doesn’t need hospitalization — wearing even a makeshift mask can help to reduce exposure to the rest of the household.
The idea may sound crazy, but officials in New York gave instructions to medical workers last week on how to fashion a coffee filter mask due to the shortage of medical masks.
And a product design company in Arlington is already working on a face mask prototype using coffee filters.
How to Make a Disposable Coffee Filter Mask:
- Coffee filter
Start by cutting two pieces of yarn that are each at least 16 inches in length. It’s easier for medical staff to trim excess yarn than try to use a mask without enough yarn to tie.
Make a horizontal fold across the top quarter of the coffee filter.
Insert the yarn into the fold and use the stapler to secure it in place.
Repeat for the bottom quarter of the coffee filter to make a second set of ties for the mask.
The mask can now be tied into place to fit over a medical-grade mask or to use if a medical mask isn’t available.
If you are in an area where health care providers are in dire need of protective equipment, we recommend that you reach out and ask how you can help. Get creative and make suggestions — every little bit can help!
FOR MORE STUCK AT HOME RESOURCES:
- Join one of your kids’ favorite authors or illustrators for online story time!
- Travel the world from your couch with this list of 40+ virtual field trips.
- A dozen moms shared how they are keeping sane with a schedule for school at home.
- Let kids explore this virtual Hogwarts escape room!
- Get kids off technology and back to basics with learning worksheets you can print at home!
- Make being stuck at home fun with our favorite indoor games for kids.
- This gigantic list of subscriptions from education companies will help get your home learning off the ground.
- My kids are obsessed with these active indoor games.
- 5 minute crafts are saving my bacon right now — so easy!
- Impress your “students” with fun facts for kids!