LIST: DOH-approved face mask alternatives
The DOH listed cost-effective solutions that can still get the job done properly for Taal-hit residents and evacuees in Batangas and Cavite.
Image by jacqueline macou from Pixabay
LIST: DOH-approved face mask alternatives
Ratziel San Juan ( - January 14, 2020 - 4:28pm

MANILA, Philippines — Amid shortage of the N95 face masks prescribed to the areas most affected by the Taal Volcano unrest, including Cavite and Batangas in Region IV-A, the Department of Health (DOH) has provided short-term resourceful solutions for locals awaiting government aid.

DOH Assistant Secretary Dr. Maria Francia Laxamana said that panic-buying and hoarding of N95 masks in areas quite far from the eruption, like Metro Manila, contributed to the depletion of stocks, clarifying that other regions not within the immediate vicinity or “front lines” of the volcano could simply use standard surgical face masks. Fortunately, the health official listed cost-effective solutions that can still get the job done properly for Taal-hit residents and evacuees in Batangas and Cavite. Asuncion

Regular surgical masks with a wet handkerchief

The more common surgical masks used by people to avoid catching or spreading illnesses can be used to breathe properly in the presence of ashfall and hazardous gases.

“Pwede naman po maglagay sa loob ng medyo moist na mga panyo para ma-obstruct lang yung pagpasok ng ashfall,” Laxamana said.

(You can insert a moist handkerchief inside the face mask to obstruct the entrance of ashfall.)

Cloth wrapped like a ninja mask and hood

If one does not have a surgical mask or any other type, the DOH official recommended making an improvised ninja mask and hood from any cloth or fabric.

“Imagine-in niyo po 'yung ninja, kung papaano binabalot 'yung ulo, 'yung nandito sa leeg, so the whole of the upper head and the neck is being protected. Lalo na po dito sa nose and mouth... Basa-basain niyo lang po ‘yun.”

(Imagine what a ninja looks like, how they cover their heads down to their necks, so the whole of the upper head and the neck is being protected. Especially the nose and mouth... Just make sure to wet the fabric.)

“'Yung iba nga po, pati 'yung mata, konting konti na lang. Basta makakita lang sila habang naglalakad.”

(Some cover their eyes, leaving only a tiny space. As long as they can still see while walking.)

Laxamana said the ninja-inspired cover serves as practical protection against respiratory illness, namely coughing and sneezing, and even eye irritation.

“Ginawa po 'yan n'ung time po ng Pinatubo, ginawa po 'yan n'ung sa Mayon Volcano. And it worked. Marami pong na-prevent ang mga respiratory illnesses because of that.”

(That was done during the time of Mount Pinatubo as well as the Mayon Volcano. And it worked. Many respiratory illnesses were prevented because of that.)


This one might look ridiculous, but hey it works if used properly.

“Depende kung papaano ang pagkakagamit... Actually po kung titingnan niyo po 'yung diapers, 'di ba sa mga bata merong, 'Keep it dry.' So ngayon po, pwede niyo pong gawin, basabasain niyo lang nang kunti siya, para hindi kayo ma-suffocate. Para talagang ma-obstruct."

(It depends on how the diaper is used... Actually, if you look at the diapers, for kids there’s usually a “Keep it dry” tagline. So what you can do is to wet the diaper a little, just to prevent suffocation and ensure the ashfall is obstructed.)

“Kasi po pwede niyong ilagay dito sa may ears. So mapoprotektahan niyo po 'yung tenga, mapoprotektahan niyo po' yung nose and mouth. 'Yung velcro pwedeng 'yun 'yung ilagay niyo sa likod.”

(You can even insert your ears. So the diaper will protect your ears, nose, and mouth. The velcro can be placed on the back of your head.)

Bra or panty

“Meron pong isang creative, 'yung bra, panty. Kasi po talagang lahat lumalabas na,” the health official joked about the scarcity.

(There’s one creative approach, the bra or panty. In an emergency, everything will surely come out.)

Like the other makeshift masks, panties or bras can protect against ashfall if they are wet beforehand.

Diving goggles or motorcycle helmet

Diving goggles and even a motorcycle helmet could also serve as protective eyewear to guard against irritation caused by ashfall and other debris.

“As long as it will protect your eyes, it will not make a difference.”

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