While reading a number of articles on the potential for CPAP machines to be used as makeshift ventilators for less-severe COVID-19 cases or as the basis for conversions into full-fledged ventilators, it occurred to me that a nose-and-mouth CPAP mask like mine could be used as a makeshift mask for going out on essential trips.
They’ve got a lot going for them: they form a tight seal, they’re easy to clean and can be reused, and you can connect a bacterial filter to the hose attachment (which opens downward thanks to gravity, further reducing the risk of droplet contact). I was in the process of ordering a replacement mask anyway, so in addition to a new mask, I ordered a fresh cushion for my old one so that Anitra could use it.
Here’s how the mask and filter fit together:
Between the mask/bacterial filter combo and the fact that the airway faces downward, I figure that the rig makes for some decent droplet protection.
The no-prescription workaround
The tricky thing about getting a CPAP mask is that like the CPAP machine you attach it to, it requires a prescription. However, there’s a workaround that just about every online CPAP vendor makes available to customers: while ordering a complete mask requires a prescription, ordering CPAP mask parts doesn’t, and the parts snap together quite easily. Best of all, the cost of ordering parts is about the same as ordering a complete mask.
My new mask is a RedMed AirFit F20, which sells for $120 in kit form at CPAP.com. A cushion for my old mask, a Quattro, sells for $54. This isn’t a cheap solution, but if you already have a CPAP and have some old masks, you might be able to repurpose them for the plague.