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Improvised PPE

Posted: 15 Apr 2020, 12:26pm
by Tinnishill
I mentioned this subject on a previous thread, but in the light of the recent statement by Dr Nabarro of WHO I thought that I would come back to it. Our domestic circumstances are that we have several family members in the high risk category and a couple are very high. My assumption is that other forum members are in similar circumstances. At this time we appear to be expected to nurse covid19 infected housemates at home until such time that they are so serious that we should phone 111. It has been established that the infection will pass quickly through a household, so we need to try to avoid all of us being laid low at the same time. That means using protective clothing which is in short supply. Reasonably enough UK Government policy is to deliver to the NHS. US government policy appears to be to encourage public use of improvised equipment.

Covid19 spreads through droplet contamination. Using barrier clothing can reduce contamination; masks, gloves, coveralls and visors.

It helps to be clear about what masks can do; the UK categorises masks as P1, P2 or P3, from least to most effective. Here’s a link to an information page predating the current emergency, about how masks work: ... t-viruses/

A simple cloth mask protects passers-by from your exhaled droplets; a filtered mask increases your protection from their snotters. A P1 mask is easy to make and it is possible to add a degree of filtration. Some filtration is better than no filtration.

There are now a number of DIY mask videos available on line. If you want to make a DIY mask without sewing try a squint at this (skip over any intrusive adverts that come up).

Pay attention to the last minute of the video, where she shows you how to wear them.

You can increase the effectiveness of masks by folding in a domestic filter paper. Filter papers (like this; ... /p/0237478 ) can be found to fit kitchen extractor fans, some vacuum cleaners, air con systems, and fancy cat litter trays. One standard cooker hood filter will supply about 9 mask filters. Cut them down to size to fit the mask.

To make a better fit around the nose, so that you can pinch to fit your own nose, put a “metallic twist tie wire” (put the phrase in to ebay or google for an illustration, garden ones work for me) at the very top of the filter, before you make the first folds, and the end product will allow you to use that flexible strip to pinch a tighter fit at the nose-bridge.

You can use J cloths and similar non-woven cloths, rather than cotton materials, for disposable masks. Wash reusable cloth masks in at least 60c (hotter than bearable for handwashing), or pour boiling water from a kettle over them and dry before reuse.

Gloves are difficult to improvise. The NHS and care homes must use latex free gloves in case of allergic shock; if you know that nobody in your likely group of patients has allergies, buy disposable latex gloves so that you are not diverting supplies from the NHS. If no ethical disposable gloves are available, try thin cotton gloves repeatedly boiling and drying them.

If it's yourself that you are trying to protect, rather than passing third parties, you need to wear a filtered mask and eye protection such as specs, shades, safety glasses or whatever. Close fitting specs will steam up more. Wipe the specs with an antiseptic wipe now and again and bin the wipes. Hairdressers hairspray shields are a disposable visor. ... +&_sacat=0

The person doing the actual nursing might feel better if wearing a smock over their clothing. The “music festival disposable poncho” is what can be used here.

Treat disposable masks, and the filter papers, gloves and smocks as clinical waste (possibly burn them in a metal bucket afterwards with a splash of lighter fuel.)

Keep washing your hands after handling possibly contaminated things. All the time. Over and over again.

As I said on my previous post, I am not a medic. I am an old Cold Warrior, who spent years doing chemical and biological warfare training in civil defence roles. Like Johnny Notions said “I do no magic and I give no guarantees”.

I’m off for a lie down now.


Re: Improvised PPE

Posted: 15 Apr 2020, 8:21pm
by sizbut
You missed the one factor that makes a mask most effective - the infected person wear it rather than just those trying to avoid infection.

Re: Improvised PPE

Posted: 16 Apr 2020, 2:58pm
by Tinnishill