Before you sew surgical masks for frontliners

It is absolutely touching to see how many people come together to sew surgical masks and donate them to the people who need them the most. There are, however, a few things to watch when sewing surgical masks for front liners such as medical staff and social services workers.

Maybe you’ve already heard the expression to “do it the Czech way” – the Czech people started sewing masks massively a month ago and have donated millions of them. Currently, they create initiatives to send masks to other countries as well. During this time we’ve gained quite some experience in what the frontliners are asking for when it comes to homemade surgical masks. Here are some points to consider before you start:

  1. Always ask for specifications – get the information from the hospital, nursing home, etc. on what they want. Not everyone is able to use a mask with a wire in it, however comfortable it might be. Actually, for the reason of sterilization, most of the medical centers will probably need a simple pleated mask with straps. They might even ask you to not make it double-layered as the staff has to wear the mask for many hours each day. There are, however, establishments, who accept not only double-layer masks but also masks with a filter pocket.
  2. Material – make masks only from 100 % cotton, if you’re donating them to the frontliners. Other materials often cannot go through hospital sterilization.
  3. Watch the straps – I can’t stress this enough. I’ve seen so many people meaning well and using elastic bands to put behind the ears because it’s easier than to tie two pairs of straps…have you seen the ears of a nurse who has to wear a mask with elastic bands behind the ears for 10 hours a day? Please, make 100% cotton straps or apply rule nr. 1 and ask before sewing.
  4. Don’t forget the disinfection – if you happen to have the ingredients for homemade disinfection, you might donate that as well since there’s a shortage of it almost everywhere. The tutorial is here.

Thank you for reading and if you’re not sure about something, just remember rule number 1 – ask the establishment you want to donate to or the person who organizes group donations.