It seems we live in a whole new world every day lately where the things we used to do without a second thought now give us pause to question if we really need to do them or not.

I needed stamps and decided it would be better to hit the post office near my house than to brave the super market. As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases grows in and around Wichita Falls my concern for my own health and those that I come into contact with grows.

Not having an official N95 face mask I made do with what I had around the house, a black balaclava that I use when participating in cold weather outdoor activities. While I didn't pull it up over the top of my head, I did place it around my neck and raised the lower portion to cover my mouth and nose as I entered the post office. Yes, I probably looked like some sort of bandito wannabe, but I can live with that if it keeps the people I care about safe and healthy.

Inside, I noticed that both of the postal workers were wearing gloves and one of them was wearing what appeared to be an N95 mask. In the course of my stamp purchase we chatted a bit. As I stood safely behind the yellow line on the floor I made the comment that I wasn't even sure where to buy the official masks and that this one was totally washable, reusable and I already had it at home. On my way out another customer, wearing her own mask, asked me if I would like something better and handed me the homemade mask in the photo above. She was there to mail off a packet filled with homemade masks to some of her friends.

That got me to thinking. Is it time for more people to make their own face masks? These homemade masks are actually quite simple, just a couple pieces of fabric and some stretchy ear bands. Surely anyone with a tiny amount of sewing experience could make them. It turns out I'm not the only one thinking that way. We've seen the stories on local television about Oklahoma prison inmates making masks for health care workers, and Good Housekeeping even has a pretty handy how-to guide.

According to the wise people at Good Housekeeping the best type of material to use is a tightly woven cotton. Things like old denim jeans, bed sheets, and heavyweight shirts are all good candidates. Once you get the hang of it I'm sure you can crank out a bunch of these while you're staying home during Shelter In Place. Then all you have to do is figure out some way to distribute them to your friends.

While these may not be up to medical use standards, they do afford some protection from airborne droplets, simply wearing them will remind you to maintain a safe social distance, they're pretty simple and inexpensive to make, they're easily washable for reuse, and - most importantly - they leave the N95 masks for the people who need them most, health care workers and people with compromised immune systems.

I thank the woman who handed one to me at the post office and encourage everyone to stay safe, stay home as much as you possibly can, and stay Falls Strong.

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