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Fire departments urge people not to sanitize face masks in the microwave after they start blazes

Fire departments urge people not to sanitize face masks in the microwave after they start blazes
  • People have shared images of their ruined face masks after following advice to sterilize them in the microwave 
  • Scientists have shown that microwaving contaminated items for three minutes could kill parainfluenzas, similar to coronavirus
  • One man shared a picture of his burned DIY mask after he followed guidance from a quilting board to microwave inside a plastic bag for three minutes  
  • 'DO NOT place masks in the microwave for any period of time,' Arlington Fire Department tweeted Monday
  • 'A lot of people don't know that there is metal inside the mask to help you shape it to your nose,' Reading Fire Department in Massachusetts tweeted
  • NH State Fire Marshal's Office warned that even purely cloth homemade masks can overheat quickly and catch fire
  • The CDC recommends cleaning reusable masks in a washing machine 
Fire departments around the country are urging people not to sanitize their face masks in the microwave because it can start blazes.
People have been buying and making their own reusable and cloth face coverings to protect themselves from respiratory droplets that can transfer from one person to another and spread coronavirus.
But when it comes to cleaning the items, Americans have made the crucial mistake of microwaving ones with metal wiring, causing sparks to fly in their homes during a time when emergency services are busier than ever responding to those affected by COVID-19.
'There are reports of masks being sanitized in microwaves, this is a major fire hazard, please DO NOT place masks in the microwave for any period of time,' Arlington Fire Department tweeted Monday.
People have shared images of their ruined face masks after following advice to sterilize them in the microwave
People have shared images of their ruined face masks after following advice to sterilize them in the microwave
'DO NOT place masks in the microwave for any period of time,' Arlington Fire Department tweeted Monday
'DO NOT place masks in the microwave for any period of time,' Arlington Fire Department tweeted Monday
They posted the tweet alongside a snap of a mask burned black in places after flames had been extinguished with water.
'There is a troubling trend in which people are microwaving masks in an effort to kill the germs. A lot of people don't know that there is metal inside the mask to help you shape it to your nose. Microwaving a mask could cause your microwave to catch fire!' Reading Fire Department in Massachusetts warned.
The NH State Fire Marshal's Office (NHFMO) shared similar information, reminding 'everyone that "microwaving their masks to kill germs" is a fire hazard and an extremely bad idea'.'Cloth masks can overheat quickly and catch fire,' they warned. 'Disposable masks also have a metal nose wire and can cause sparks, a fire, and/or break your microwave.'
German scientists found in a study that temperatures of 56–60° C were enough to inactivate polio and parainfluenza viruses on cloth, using a home microwave of 2.45gHz for just three minutes. Parainfluenzas are similar to coronavirus.
They recommended microwaving at 600 watts for two minutes or more to kill HIV and Hepatitis C on cigarette filters and syringes.
But some people with the incorrect wattage or leaving masks that do not have metal pieces inside in the microwave too long have run into trouble.
Some messaging boards online have recommended microwaving the masks inside a plastic bag for three minutes
Some messaging boards online have recommended microwaving the masks inside a plastic bag for three minutes
'I tried it. This is after 2 minutes.....' one woman wrote on the My Hobby Is Quilting Facebook group page, showing her burned item
'I tried it. This is after 2 minutes.....' one woman wrote on the My Hobby Is Quilting Facebook group page, showing her burned item
New Hampshire State Fire Marshal's Office warned that even purely cloth homemade masks can overheat quickly and catch fire
New Hampshire State Fire Marshal's Office warned that even purely cloth homemade masks can overheat quickly and catch fire
Fire departments have shared that some people do not realize metal is inside to help fit to the nose snugly
Fire departments have shared that some people do not realize metal is inside to help fit to the nose snugly 
Pictured, pairs of face masks have been burned in places after attempts to sterilize in the microwave
Pictured, pairs of face masks have been burned in places after attempts to sterilize in the microwave
Pictured, pairs of face masks have been burned in places after attempts to sterilize in the microwave
This image shows a pair of cloth masks that were ruined after being placed in the microwave
This image shows a pair of cloth masks that were ruined after being placed in the microwave
'I read on one of my quilting boards to place your mask in the microwave in a plastic bag for three minutes to sterilize. I thought, hmmm, that doesn't seem right so before I recommended it to my family, I tried it. This is after 2 minutes.....' one woman wrote on the My Hobby Is Quilting Facebook group page, showing her burned item. 
'Please don't try it. It smells awful. And if I hadn't been standing right there watching.... Well, you all know what it would have been like after three minutes....a kitchen fire! Yikes!
'Really, the worst part is, I have to make yet another one of these! I was hoping to be done.'
The CDC recommends properly sterilizing masks with detergent in the washing machine. They advise to clean depending on the frequency of use.
Masks are becoming a way of life for so many around the US. However the government has asked for N95 respiratory masked to be reserved for frontline hospital workers who need the utmost protection and spend long hours wearing them.
Disposable surgical masks are usually recommended for one-time use however some have been cleaning them for reuse.
Making bandanas and t-shirt masks are also alternatives recommended by the CDC.
The nose clip area inside many masks are made of metal
The nose clip area inside many masks are made of metal
In the United States, 55% of adults reported wearing masks out in public, according to an ABC/Ipsos survey released on April 10.
They are now mandatory in many US grocery stores, doctors' offices and wine shops, and many are following official orders to wear a mask when they leave home and cannot maintain social distancing to avoid disease spread.  
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has issued an executive order that all New Yorkers must wear masks or face coverings in public whenever staying six feet apart isn't possible.
Governor Murphy of New Jersey signed his own executive order, ordering all customers and employees in grocery stores to wear face masks.
Similar rules have been rolled out across California, in Maryland and Illinois, and in other cities and counties across the country.
Even the NBA and Women's National Basketball Association have officially begun selling cloth face coverings sporting logos from all 30 men's teams and all 12 women's teams for $15, promising proceeds will benefit Feeding America in the United States and Second Harvest in Canada.
But for people ordering their cloth mask from small companies, they may not be aware of the wiring inside.
While the CDC has said wearing a face covering can help protect against the virus, the World Health Organization has said there's no evidence to show this. However officials have adopted a better safe than sorry approach when responding to the new coronavirus.
Not all masks are created equal: Single-use masks and surgical masks have larger pores which the coronavirus can easily slip through. A more expensive N95 mask is the gold standard for healthcare workers fighting infectious diseases
Not all masks are created equal: Single-use masks and surgical masks have larger pores which the coronavirus can easily slip through. A more expensive N95 mask is the gold standard for healthcare workers fighting infectious diseases

DO FACE MASKS MAKE A DIFFERENCE AND WHAT SHOULD YOU WEAR IF YOU CAN'T GET ONE?

Americans are increasingly being spotted wearing face masks in public amid the coronavirus pandemic, as are people are around the globe.
Soon, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may advise all Americans to cover their faces when they leave the house, the Washington Post reported.  
The agency is weighing that recommendation after initially telling Americans that they didn't need to wear masks and that anything other than a high-grade N95 medical mask would do little to prevent infection any way. 
FACE MASKS DO HELP PREVENT INFECTION - BUT THEY'RE NOT ALL CREATED EQUAL 
Research on how well various types of masks and face coverings varies but, recently, and in light of the pandemic of COVID-19, experts are increasingly leaning toward the notion that something is better than nothing. 
A University of Oxford study published on March 30 concluded that surgical masks are just as effective at preventing respiratory infections as N95 masks for doctors, nurses and other health care workers. 
It's too early for their to be reliable data on how well they prevent infection with COVID-19, but the study found the thinner, cheaper masks do work in flu outbreaks. 
The difference between surgical or face masks and N95 masks lies in the size of particles that can - and more importantly, can't - get though the materials. 
N95 respirators are made of thick, tightly woven and molded material that fits tightly over the face and can stop 95 percent of all airborne particles, while surgical masks are thinner, fit more loosely, and more porous. 
This makes surgical masks much more comfortable to breathe and work in, but less effective at stopping small particles from entering your mouth and nose. 
Droplets of saliva and mucous from coughs and sneezes are very small, and viral particles themselves are particularly tiny - in fact, they're about 20-times smaller than bacteria. 
For this reason, a JAMA study published this month still contended that people without symptoms should not wear surgical masks, because there is not proof the gear will protect them from infection - although they may keep people who are coughing and sneezing from infecting others. 
But the Oxford analysis of past studies - which has not yet been peer reviewed - found that surgical masks were worth wearing and didn't provide statistically less protection than N95 for health care workers around flu patients. 
However, any face mask is only as good as other health and hygiene practices. Experts universally agree that there's simply no replacement for thorough, frequent hand-washing for preventing disease transmission. 
Some think the masks may also help to 'train' people not to touch their faces, while others argue that the unfamiliar garment will just make people do it more, actually raising infection risks.  
If the CDC does instruct Americans to wear masks, it could create a second issue: Hospitals already face shortages of masks and other PPE.
WHAT TO USE TO COVER YOUR FACE IF YOU DON'T HAVE A MASK 
So the agency may recommend regular citizens use alternatives like cloth masks or bandanas. 
'Homemade masks theoretically could offer some protection if the materials and fit were optimized, but this is uncertain,' Dr Jeffrey Duchin, a Seattle health official told the Washington Post. 
A 2013 study found that next to a surgical mask, a vacuum cleaner bag provided the best material for a homemade mask. 
After a vacuum bag, kitchen towels were fairly protective, but uncomfortable. Masks made of T-shirts were very tolerable, but only worked a third as well as surgical mask. The Cambridge University researchers concluded that homemade masks should only be used 'as a last resort.' 
But as the pandemic has spread to more than 164,000 people worldwide, it might be time to consider last resort options.  

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