Lose your shirt, save your ears, but wear a mask

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STEP 1: Cut a section of the button strip from old shirt to create an extender allowing mask loops to go around the buttons. Size matters so folks with larger heads may want to add another button width. STEP 2: Hook the mask loops around the buttons to create a back of the head strap. “Don’t let ear tenderness get you hot under the collar. Try this and lose your shirt, not your ears,” says Darin Gilley, secretary-treasurer, UAW Local 2250 at the GM Wentzville plant. – Darin Gilley photos

To anyone wearing mask (and that should be all of us) and trying to find a solution to a common complaint – “my ears are killing me” – here’s a novel solution using the shirt off your back.

Darin Gilley, secretary-treasurer of UAW Local 2250 at the GM plant in Wentzville, heard this complaint from so many of his members returning to work recently but required to wear face masks on the job. With five cases of confirmed COVID-19 at the plant as of presstime, it has dramatically reconfirmed the reason workers need their masks on the job.

“Second and Third shift production workers have not experienced the many joys that come with this personal protection that also protects others. One of the most painful challenges is the back of the ear becoming raw and painful.

“You may have seen videos or ads for mask retainers that allow the loops of the mask to attach to buttons or slots as a way to take this pressure off the ears. Great ideas!  But if you need a mask retainer but lack sewing skills or need one in a pinch,” Gilley came up with a novel idea of making an extender “from any old button-down shirt in your closet.”

Since so many GM workers have the problem, Gilley’s quick fix allows his members to use a spare shirt they have in their locker.


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