How to use protective masks and gloves the right way
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is well-known and utilized often within the health care community and various other industries. It only is in recent months that personal protective equipment has became something the general population learned more about as the COVID-19 outbreak took hold in the western hemisphere.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, PPE is equipment worn to minimize exposure to hazards that cause serious workplace injuries and illnesses. PPE can include gloves, safety glasses, masks, earplugs, hard hats, respirators, or coveralls. In the medical community, PPE generally extends to gowns/aprons, respirators, face shields, and more.
Even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were only advocating for the use of masks primarily for COVID-19 patients and the health care workers tending to them, many people began to use gloves and masks of their own accord to safeguard themselves against contraction of the virus. Gloves and masks are only effective if they are used in the proper manner. The following are some guidelines for proper PPE use.
Gloves: The CDC says that gloves should fit the users’ hands comfortably. Gloves can only prevent the spread of pathogens if hand hygiene is performed before and after wear, states the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.
To remove gloves properly, pinch the outside of one glove at the wrist without touching bare skin. Peel the glove away from the body, pulling it inside out. Hold the glove just removed in the other gloved hand and dispose of it. For the remaining glove, slide your fingers inside the glove at the top of the wrist, being careful not to touch the outside of the glove. Again, turn the second glove inside out while pulling it away from the body. Dispose of the glove properly.
Masks: Masks, sometimes referred to as respirators, also need to fit to be effective. Masks should be tight-fitting to the face. Clean hands and put on the mask, molding the mask over the bridge of the nose and sealing it around the face. One strap should be high on the head, the other low around the base of the neck.
To remove the mask, tilt your head forward and pull the bottom strap over the back of the head, followed by the top strap without touching the front of the mask, says APIC. Keep straps tight during the removal process.
Don’t snap the straps or touch the front of the mask, as this can spread germs. (Directions provided are for N95 respirators. Other mask designs should be removed according to manufacturer recommendations).
PPE has become a household term. Proper usage is necessary to stay safe if and when masks and gloves are utilized.