COVID-19 OR THE "CORONAVIRUS AND PPE
With the spread of “coronavirus” or COVID-19, a communicable viral disease; there has never been a better time to learn more about personal protective equipment (PPE). COVID-19 is passed from person to another through close contact and the sneezing or coughing of an infected person. Unfortunately, an individuals can also contract COVID-19 simply by touching a surface recently touched by an infected individual and then touching one’s own mouth, eyes, or nose. Transmitting and contracting COVID-19 can be greatly reduced by wearing personal protective equipment, which creates a barrier between the hands, the mouth, and other high-risk areas. Learn more about the different types of PPE and when to use in this valuable resource.
WHEN SHOULD I USE PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE)?
So people often wonder when they should use personal protective equipment? Personal protective equipment may include gowns, goggles and face shields, gloves, and masks and respirators. This answer is really dependent on the personal or professional surrounding. Masks and respirators are used to cover the mouth and nose: high-risk areas for both contracting and transmitting sickness. Although the CDC recommendation is for voluntary use, an employer might feel it is critical to ensure certain employees do wear masks. If employees are considered “medium risk” for COVID-19 exposure because, for example, they have frequent contact with individuals within six feet, then using a mask may be required.
Respirators cover as minimum the nose and mouth of users and remove contaminants from the air by filtering airborne particles or chemical agents from air. Goggles and face shields are designed to shield the eyes and the skin of the face, goggles and face shields are both extra protective layers designed to be worn in densely-populated areas with several contagious individuals. Disposable gloves are worn to protect the skin of the hands from pathogens and other harmful substances.
However, even with COVID-19 in most countries and cities around the world, it’s not necessary to wear personal protective equipment at all times. If you are quarantining or practicing shelter in place, there is no need to wear protective equipment in your own home — provided you don’t live with anyone who has COVID-19. In most cases, it is only necessary to wear PPE when you are living or working in an enclosed space with COVID-19 patients. One notable additional case: if you are traveling and you have an existing respiratory condition, it is highly recommended that you wear a mask or respirator to prevent infection.
Lastly, always remember to wash your hands with soap and water before putting on your PPE and after removing in order to prevent the cross-contamination of unwanted pathogens. To wash your hands properly, per the CDC guidelines, start by wetting both hands under warm water. Next, turn off the tap and apply soap. Lather all surfaces of your hands, including finger tips, creases between fingers, and the backs of your palms. Scrub for at least 20 seconds before turning the tap back on.
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Dr. Tracy A. Jones is an American Heart Association, ASHI, and American Red Cross Master Program Trainer, Instructor, & AHA Faculty Member located in San Antonio, Texas.