How to make a face mask and use it safely

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It’s not enough to just cover your face. Here is how to make a DIY face mask, and tips on wearing it safely

Wearing a face covering can help stop the spread of coronavirus. The Government is expected to release advice on face coverings, specifically in public spaces where it’s hard to socially distance, and already you can see people are starting to wear them to shops and when out for a walk.

There is a downside to masks and face coverings. They can lead to complacency with essential steps like handwashing, and they can be ineffective when handled incorrectly. But wearing a face mask correctly can prevent you from passing on the virus to someone else, a responsibility we all need to take seriously.

More and more countries are issuing orders to wear face masks in public, and easing their lockdown restrictions as a result. So it’s a practice that is soon going to be commonplace in our lives.

Irish designers are responding to the demand for non-medical masks with effective designs, but they are selling out fast. Read about them here. You can also make your own, from materials you have at home.

How to make a face covering:

Anyone can make an effective face covering, as these tutorials show.

Geraldine from Sustainable Fashion Dublin shared a simple guide to making your own mask on Instagram Stories, which you can find in their highlights. You’ll need a needle and thread and high thread count cotton such as an old sheet or t-shirt. You will also need a sheet or piece of card measuring 18x20cms, to use as a stencil to cut out the fabric, and some pins and scissors. For the ties, you can use elastic, shoe laces or hems from old t-shirts or sheets.

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Homemade cloth face mask, BUT MAKE IT FASHION😷👌🏻 ⚠️ PPE is in critically short supply and yet we’re being encouraged to wear face masks when in public settings – “what to dooo??”🤷🤷‍♀️ Well, making your own cloth mask is a good way to ensure that the health professionals (and anyone working on the front line) gets access to the stock in pharmacies and shops, all while keeping safe yourself – not to mention putting old sheets/ T-shirts/ PJs etc to good use! Check out our instastory to see the full, foolproof tutorial for how you can make some cloth masks at home over the coming days, and be sure to send us any pics of your own creations!💪

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If you have a sewing machine, Derek from Montgomery Millinery in Westmeath shared this tutorial for making masks.

If sewing isn’t for you or you are very short on materials, you can make a face covering with a handkerchief or any fabric, elastic bands and a stapler, as this Irish Independent video with Trinity College Dublin immunologist, Professor Luke O’Neill shows.

How to safely use a face covering:

Regardless of what kind of face covering you are wearing, washing your hands is still essential. You wil need to wash your hands before you put on your mask, and before and after removing your mask. You also need to wash resuable masks after every wear. Do not touch the front of your mask, as this is wear the harmful contagions are. Always handle it from the ties at the sides.

You can buy surgical masks in a chemist or pharmacy, for varying prices, but demand is high. Cotton masks are just as effective, and you can make them yourself. So don’t panic if you cannot track one down, or if the price has inflated. Masks used by medical professionals are different.

Don’t get a false sense of security when wearing your mask. You need to wear it over your mouth and nose at all times when wearing the mask. That means not taking it down or letting it hang around your neck or under your chin for example. Do not touch the front of the mask while wearing, as you will then touch your face and items around you, potentially spreading the virus.

Wash reusable masks at at least 60 degrees. Ironing with a very hot iron is another step you can take to ensure you have disinfected fabric masks.

The May June issue of Irish Country Magazine is out now. Take a look inside here.