A face mask for the New Forest new normal
Buy locally in Lymington, support local business and choose a style which puts a smile on your face (even if it is hidden)
It's called a face covering by the government, presumably not to confuse with the PPE class of mask - but whatever, we’re calling it a mask!
And, with the new rules coming in for wearing one on public transport and in an increasing number of other places, having ignored this subject for so long we are finally facing up to putting our faces inside one!
Lots of questions immediately arose
For example the pros and cons of the pleated versus the shaped variety. When they say there’s a place for a filter what do you put in there! And do you then wash the filters or take them out for washing the mask. And if you buy a tougher material will it pull on the ears! How do you avoid “contaminating” your mask getting it on and off. Etc. Looking online for general advice on these matters we found none - only a plethora of masks for sale.
Di Wood, What the Blazers, Lymington
So for us the obvious person to whom to ask all these questions was Di Wood of What the Blazers based near Lymington. Di is adept and actually brilliant, at recycling and upcycling and making amazing gorgeous things from leftover fabrics. As the seriousness of the crisis started to dawn on us all she began sewing like a crazy person for the NHS, in between also making fabric face masks for NFDC volunteers - and then as she said, she just decided to carry on.
And now she offers a fabulous range including the two different "types" of face mask - and for extra fun you can have a bespoke design such as Superman! All at comparable prices to if not lower than most of the masks you find if you search online for face masks. You can see the range and fabrics used and also read more about the different types of mask construction on the Di's website: the page all about masks - which also enables you to buy online.
About wearing and caring for your face mask
Di explained that you really do need to wash your mask after every wearing - and that includes putting it on and taking it off just once. (She explains that she normally has two with her just in case; she'll put one on in the car park eg before going into the supermarket and take it off only when back at the car, for several good reasons: especially not wanting to be a carrier and inadvertently spread the virus, but also if we wear a mask and people see us it’s a good reminder to them, to keep distance and stay alert.)
As for the type. (And thank you to Di's two models for demonstrating the two types.)
Some people apparently prefer the pleated type, easier to carry around and prefer to put their own filter in. Also probably more efficient because you end up with 3 layers. We learned that people use coffee filter papers and vacuum filters for that filter layer. (See more on this subject below.)
Others prefer the shaped type with its filter backing – and you conveniently just wash the whole thing. Which sounded more appealing!
And yes, wearing a mask for a sustained time CAN lead to ear “ache”! And apparently there’s a clever trick you can do with loops and hooks and buttons, or with a hair bungee, in order to attach the mask around the back of your head.
I’m about to select preferred and upbeat colours of the shaped variety from Di’s selection and will add to this article if I discover it’s easy to explain about the bungees!
Di also gave me this weblink about filters, for those who prefer the type of mask where you take these in and out and want to DIY their filters.
About how to wear and make a cloth face “covering”
Di also offered a link to this article, government advice on how to wear a “face covering”
And they say…
“A cloth face covering should cover your mouth and nose while allowing you to breathe comfortably. It can be as simple as a scarf or bandana that ties behind the head.
Wash your hands or use hand sanitiser before putting it on and after taking it off. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth at all times and store used face coverings in a plastic bag until you have an opportunity to wash them.
Do not touch the front of the face covering, or the part of the face covering that has been in contact with your mouth and nose. Once removed, make sure you clean any surfaces the face covering has touched.
You should wash a face covering regularly. It can go in with other laundry, using your normal detergent.
When wearing a face covering, take care to tuck away any loose ends."
Making your own mask
And if you’re handy and have time on your hands too you might want to make one: instructions via same government link above.
Personally we’re going to choose from the lovely What the Blazers selection!
More about masks
If you’re interested in delving deeper into this subject and/or seriously concerned about best protection against coronavirus we also found this article from the Guardian.
More mask tips welcome
If you have extra advice for novice mask wearers please do email and we’ll add to this article for the benefit of all!
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