This is sub-optimal. Ideally our frontline workers would have the correct PPE. In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic we provide this as an alternative. It’s a case of “Ideal to Real”
Guiding Principles: Stay safe while you’re doing this. Ideally you have all of these materials in your home and you know they are virus-free. The reality is that you will have to get some of this stuff from elsewhere and risk exposing yourself to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Self-Reflection: Two questions to ask yourself:
- Am I willing to risk potential exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus? If you are non-smoker, totally healthy, at a healthy weight, younger, and in a place with awesome healthcare, that’s great. If the answer to any of the previous is NO then I recommend not taking the risk to make these. Focus on your personal health. You can still help from the safety of your home by organizing volunteers, materials, etc. Also, are you psychologically prepared to work on this? It’s challenging, and the premise we’re working under is terrifying. If you’re mentally vulnerable then I recommend you skip it and do meditation and watch kitten videos instead.
- If you’re up for it, you need to assess your level of perfectionism. These shields are already sub-optimal because of the materials. If the construction is shoddy and you make a subpar product you could be adding to the problem. Only do this if you are able to make a consistently good product.
For those who are ready to work here are the rules:
- Stay home: If possible, have the materials delivered. If you MUST go out for something essential like food or medication and can get materials from a store you are already visiting, then go for it.
- Don’t touch your face: When you’re importing materials, wear a mask, gloves and glasses. Mostly to remind yourself not to touch your face.
- Disinfect: Wipe all imported materials with a bleach solution: 4 cups water to 4 teaspoons bleach, or rubbing alcohol (at least 70%)
- Wash your hands: After disinfecting, remove your gloves correctly and then immediately wash your hands properly.
Part One: Gather Materials & Supplies
[ ] Flexible clear plastic: 1.5 liter clear empty plastic bottles like Topo Chico or other sparkling water bottles
[ ] Foam for headband: pipe insulation or pool noodles work well
[ ] Heavy gauge wire: usually the kind used for fencing. Or coat hangers
[ ] Duct tape or contact cement. Whatever works best for adhering the foam to the plastic
[ ] Comfortable rope: Paracord rope, yarn, braided smaller diameter string
[ ] Box cutter
[ ] Scissors
[ ] Wire cutter
[ ] Drill: you can get around this, but it’s easier with a drill
[ ] Rubbing alcohol and/or
[ ] Bleach solution
- Cut the bottle. Take your 1.5-liter clear empty plastic bottles and remove the label. Carefully cut around the top and the bottom, using your box cutter, and perhaps your scissors to finish each cut. The remaining material should be about 8 ½ to 9” high. Trim the edges if necessary.
- Use another full bottle as a stand and wrap the cut plastic around it to make it easier to work with. The top of the bottle will become the bottom of the mask.
- Cut the wire. The wire will give rigidity to the bottom of the mask. Use a piece of string and run it along the edge of the top of the bottle to measure the length of wire needed. Mark the string and then use it as a guide to cut the wire. Add ¼” or so to the length of the wire just in case. Bend the wire so that it roughly forms the shape of the bottle. This will make it easier to attach.
- Cut six or so strips of duct tape and cut a slit halfway through the middle of each piece. Starting at one end, tape the wire to the edge of the bottle, folding over the tape as you go. This is the hardest and most frustrating part. Take your time, it gets easier.
- Cut the excess wire if it’s too long.
- Cut & attach the foam headband. Pipe insulation or pool noodles seem to work the best, but use what you have. Cut the foam to roughly 9 to 9 1/2″ in length and about 1″ x 1″ in width and height. The goal is to provide some comfort and create space between the shield and face. Double back three or so strips of duct tape and attach them to the foam. Alternatively, use contact cement if the tape isn’t adhering well. For pool noodles and pipe insulation, put the tape on the “outside” of the foam (the smooth side). The “inside” of the foam will rest against the forehead. Adhere the foam to the bottom inside edge of the bottle. This should leave an inch or so of plastic on either side of the foam which will give you room to attach the string.
- Drill holes for string. If possible, use a drill to make a hole in the plastic on either side of the foam headband. Place the hole about ½” in from each edge. If you don’t have a drill, get creative. Use a nail and hammer?
- Use the scissors to round the corners at top of the shield where the holes are located. Also trim the edges along the length if you find that they pinch your face too much.
- Attach the paracord/string. Measure and cut two pieces of string about 16” long. Thread through the holes on either side, starting from the inside. Tie a knot so the string won’t slip through. If the string is plastic-based, you can burn the ends so they won’t fray. Otherwise, tie a simple overhand knot at each end.
That’s it! Go over your taping job again and apply pressure along all the edges to make sure everything adheres well.
Lastly, wipe down the shield with bleach water or alcohol and store in a clean bag.
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