Wear It Right! How to Wear Masks and Gloves

by Erica Mitchell | May 10 2020 | Health | 3 Comments

wear it right-01These past few weeks we have been exploring what we can learn from infection preventionists as we navigate life during a pandemic. Especially now as more of us prepare to leave self-isolation and shelter-in-place, we need to learn from the experts how best to stay safe and keep others safe. In today's post, we'll look at the two types of major personal protective equipment (PPE) you may be using as you re-enter work, appointments, and recreation: Masks and gloves. At the end, you'll also find our infographic with visual representation of the different kinds of masks and the glove removal process. 

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) started recommending the use of a face mask in early April as a way to slow the spread of the virus causing COVID-19. Because many carriers are asymptomatic (they feel and exhibit no symptoms) while still contagious, it is important for us to all act as if we were infected, especially when out in public. Facial masks help trap aerosolized droplets that may contain the virus. To a lesser extent, they can protect us from inhaling aerosolized droplets we may encounter. Here are some tips on the safe and effective use of various types of face masks.

The general public should stick to surgical masks or homemade cotton masks. This means that N95 respirators, face shields, and other medical-grade masks are not necessary and should be reserved for medical professionals (since they are in short supply). Whether you have a supply of paper masks or make your own cotton mask, be sure to follow these guidelines:

1. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before putting on your mask.
2. Ensure a tight fight for your mask, molding the wire above the bridge of your nose if your mask has one.
3. Make sure the mask covers your nose and stretches down below your chin.
4. When removing your mask, grasp it by the ties, not the front. Consider the front of the mask contaminated.
5. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer immediately after removing your mask.
6. Throw away paper masks after one use. Launder cotton masks daily.

Gloves may also be necessary, especially if you must handle items that have been touched by many others and no sanitizing wipes are available. This would include situations like using a gas pump, or handling items that may be contaminated. (Please note that food handling gloves do not afford the same level of protection as latex or medical-grade gloves.) Follow these important guidelines about glove use to get the maximum protection.

1. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before putting on gloves.
2. Don't touch your face while using gloves!
3. Remove gloves and throw them away after use. Don't wear them as you get back into your car, or open your door, etc. Consider the outside of your gloves contaminated.
4. To remove, follow glove removal steps shown in this video.
5. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer immediately after removing gloves.

We hope this post has been a helpful reminder about how to safely use the PPE that may become a part of our daily life. Please access our infographic below for a visual explanation of the same material. Stay safe out there!

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