Pitt Meadows skydiving company jumps into making cloth masks

Company views transition as way to keep people employeed, help stop spread of COVID-19

Vertical Suits has started making cloth masks. (Vertical Suits image)

A Pitt Meadows skydiving company is jumping headfirst in the fight against COVID-19.

Vertical Suits (18300 Ford Rd.) has shifted its focus from making skydiving suits to cotton masks.

After hearing a call from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for companies to think about re-tooling their equipment to make personal protective equipment (PPE), Vertical Suits started looking into making hospital gowns for health-care workers.

However, marketing director Sandra Dussault said, the certification by Health Canada required the company to spend thousands of dollars on new equipment designed for sterilization.

RELATED: Sewers stitch masks to free up supplies for front-line health-care workers

After some research, the company settled on making cloth masks.

“We have staff that want to work and we have a hard time giving them work right now,” Dussault said. “So hopefully, we can keep them employed more hours during the week by doing this.”

The masks are made of poly cotton, feature a nose bridge wire, and include a pocket for a filter.

“We don’t have the filters on hand but people have been creative and using all different things for filters,” Dussault said. “If you have those N95 inserts, you can use that. If you don’t, I’ve read all sorts of stuff. You can use the blue paper that they use in auto-shops, apparently it’s very good. Some people are using furnace filters, you can even stuff a third layer of cotton on there.”

Vertical Suits is selling its masks online at https://masks.verticalsuits.com. The company is selling the masks in pairs of two, however, if requested the company will only ship one mask and donate the other to a person in need.

RELATED: Wearing non-medical masks can stop spread of COVID-19 before symptoms start: Tam

Earlier this month, health officials said that wearing non-medical masks can help Canadians not pass along the novel coronavirus, even before they develop symptoms.

April 6, Canada’s chief medical officer Dr. Theresa Tam said the special advisory committee has come to a consensus that “wearing a non medical mask even if you have no symptoms is an additional measure to protect others around you” in places where it is hard to guarantee physical distancing, such as grocery stores and public transit.

However, Tam noted, wearing a mask does not mean people can stop physically distancing, self-isolating or hand-washing measures.

“Wearing a non-medical mask in the community has not been proven to protect the person wearing it.”

– with files from Kat Slepian

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