How to wear your face masks safely.
During the Covid 19 pandemic our normal lives have been put on hold.
All the places I planned to visit with Leo Charley & Me during the spring and summer have closed and the craft fairs, dog shows and makers markets have been cancelled or postponed. I suffer from rheumatoid arthritis so am classed as vulnerable due to the medication I have to take so I’ve been confined to the house for months.
Fortunately I’ve had company, so I’m in a much better situation than many who are self isolating. My husband is with me and my daughter has been at home since just before lockdown. This has enabled us to spend a lot of extra time together and I feel incredibly lucky to have had her here during these difficult days.
The real pleasure has been that I have the time to show her how to use a sewing machine and we have been able to sit side by side every day making things from my large stash of fabrics. She has definitely caught the sewing bug and this week has chosen a pattern and is in the process of making a very pretty summer dress!
Eight weeks ago we were able to respond to several requests from customers who needed cloth face masks. We have had many enquires as preparation for the easing of lockdown begins. The government has suggested that everyone should wear one if using public transport or if indoors where social distancing is difficult to achieve.
We looked at three different designs during the development stage but settled on one which has two layers of cotton fabric with a non-woven middle layer.
Each one is pleated so it can be opened out to cover the nose and the whole lower part of the face.
As we both wear glasses we decided that an integral, internal metal nose bar was essential so that the masks can be moulded to conform to the face which prevents gapping and also fogging up of your glasses.
For the early part of my nursing career I was a Sister in the Orthopaedic Operating Theatres of a busy Manchester hospital. I used to wear masks all day at work so I know how important it is for them to be comfortable.
This influenced my decision to make it possible to remove the elastic without damaging the face mask. This is not a common feature of masks currently on the market but it is one that we think is important to improve flexibility of fit.
It also means if the elastic weakens or perishes it can be replaced easily and cheaply. This can sometimes happen when masks are washed frequently. It is also possible to replace the elastic with longer lengths of ribbon or cotton tape which can then be tied at the back of the head instead of looping around the ears.
These features make the masks very easy to use.
To ensure everyone who buys one of my face masks knows how to use it safely I have produced a guidance sheet that is included with every order. This information has also been added to website so it is easily available to check whenever you need to.
Over the last week I have been observing people on the television news wearing their masks whilst out and about and have been dismayed to see that so many people don’t know how to wear them safely.
It is worrying to see people touching then all the time and pulling them down to wear them on their chin.
Both of these actions considerably reduce their effectiveness and increase the risk of contaminating your hands. I have seen people take them off and put them in their pocket only to take them out again and put them back on.
So I decided to write this blog about our masks with guidelines for their correct use which are detailed below.
Medical professionals are taught how to safely wear a mask as part of their training but some of the facts may not be known by the general population who now need to wear face masks when on public transport or in indoor areas where social distancing is difficult to maintain.
There are lots of masks on the market, some disposable and some reusable. The reusable might be more friendly to the environment but either way you need to chose one that suits your needs and is comfortable enough so you don’t fiddle with it whilst wearing it. Some have valves and filters and others do not, but the guidelines for handling them remain the same.
Cotton poplin is a material suitable to use for face masks as it has a close weave which can help to provide a barrier against airborne particles. Many of the fabrics that we use are the same printed cotton poplins that we use to make our range of dog collars, leads, bandanas and bows, so it is now possible to co-ordinate your face mask with your dog’s collar and accessories.
Twinning with your dog is a current trend so our cotton face masks enable you to matching your dog whilst you are out and about.
Our handmade face masks are proving very popular and we try to send out orders within 24 hours of the order being placed to get them to you as quickly as possible. However increasing demand may sometimes cause slight delays.
I have been absolutely delighted to get so many emails and letters from happy customers who have been very appreciative of our rapid service and the quality of our products.
Some of their comments can be seen in the testimonial section on our website home page.
I have also been really pleased to have received several large orders from GP surgeries around the country. I take great pride in being able to help my NHS family despite being unable to resume active duty within a hospital.
If you have any specific requirements or any questions about our face masks please get in touch and we will happily advise you. You can contact us by email or via direct messages on Facebook and Instagram.
Stay safe 🐾🐾❤️
General guidelines for wearing masks safely.
It is important to note that these and any other fabric masks whether bought or made yourself are not considered to be medical masks and are designed with the main purpose of protecting others from any airborne particles you may exhale.
There are some simple guidelines you should follow if you are wearing a mask to make sure you use them as safely as possible. It is really important that you should absolutely continue with correct social distancing with good hand hygiene.
Wearing masks may create a false sense of security that can sometimes lead to neglecting other essential measures such as good hand washing practices.
If reusable masks are worn, appropriate use and disinfection is essential to ensure they are effective and to avoid any increase in risk of transmission associated with the incorrect handling. Disposable ones should be place in a bin as soon as they have been removed.
Many of the following points are based on the correct use of medical masks which are used within health care settings.
The rules are very similar except medical masks are usually disposable.
- Place the mask carefully to cover mouth and nose and attach securely with the elastic loops over your ears to minimise any gap between the face and the mask.
- If your mask has a metal nose strip, gently bend it into place across your face to prevent any gapping at the top of the mask. (This will also help to prevent glasses from fogging up too.) Make sure you do not over bend the metal strip repeatedly as it can weaken over time.
- Whilst your mask is in place avoid touching the mask and your face.
- If you touch the mask whilst wearing it you should disinfect your hands with alcohol hand gel or wash them with soap and water if you can.
- When it is time to remove the mask do not touch the front but remove by hooking the elastic from behind your ears.
- If you are removing the mask whilst out and about do not crumple it up and put in your pocket as it should be considered as a potentially contaminated object. The safest way to deal with it is to pop it into a small plastic bag to avoid handling.
- After removal and whenever you inadvertently touch a used mask, clean your hands using an alcohol-based hand gel or soap and water.
- Replace masks with a new clean, dry mask as soon as they become damp.
- Fabric masks should ideally be washed by hand in warm soapy water and dried flat after smoothing out the metal nose bar.
- A quick iron once dry will help to keep the mask pleats in place.
- If in constant use or washed at a high temperature elastic tends to perish over time but our masks have been designed so that you can easily replace the elastic if you need to without damaging the mask.
- If you find that the elastic irritates your ears it can be removed from some masks and you will may be able to replace it with cotton tape or ribbon as an alternative. These ties will then need to be tied at the back of your head. You could also use a button band to attach the elastic to at the back of your head if the elastic is not removable.
Generally the most important point to keep yourselves as safe as possible is to touch your masks and face as little as possible, wear correctly and wash your hands every time you have handled them.
I hope these tips are helpful during these challenging and difficult times we are living in.
Check out the wide range of handmade cotton masks on our website.