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Keeping Safe In These Uncertain Times – Your Guide To PPE

Posted by Mike Phipps on May 15, 2020

A woman pushing a supermarket trolley with a large, green bug by her side

You will probably have heard the term “PPE” mentioned in many news broadcasts recently. In fact, it’s become a common term within the last few weeks, when it was hardly heard before in mainstream media. PPE stands for “Personal Protective Equipment”. It is a term used for specialised clothing, or items which are worn, designed to create a barrier between the wearer and sources of irritation (such as certain chemicals) or illnesses (such as the Coronavirus). Thereby reducing the risk and protecting the wearer from harm or contamination.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) therefore helps prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses, but only when it is correctly used and disposed of, or, in the case of reusable items, cleaned appropriately.

Here, we will consider the benefits and advice currently circulating on three of the more common items of PPE – face masks, disposable gloves and disposable aprons – and how these may help in our fight against this dreadful virus.

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that affects the lungs and airways. It is spread when an infected person “sprays” virus-laden particles and droplets into the air when they talk, cough or sneeze.

One way of trying to lessen the risk of contamination is by wearing a face mask. However, there is a lot of conflicting advice when considering the wearing of a face mask by the general public.

Our Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, recently stated “face coverings may give people confidence that they can go back to work, as the lockdown measures are eased”. Just a couple of weeks ago, on 5 May, Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, said that face masks have a “marginal but positive” impact on the spread of infection. The most recent Government advice is that a reusable, washable face covering (such as a face mask, scarf or tight-fitting snood) should be worn in situations where the 2-metre social distancing rule cannot be adhered to, such as on public transport.

If you do decide to wear a face mask, always ensure that you wash your hands before putting your face mask or face covering on, that it is tight fitting, without restricting the ability to breathe freely and also that the item is washed after each wearing.

Face masks are not complicated to make and there are many free templates on the internet. Or why not take a look at our range of ready-made reusable, washable face masks all “handmade with love in Lancashire” by our sister company.

Disposable gloves and disposable aprons can also help to prevent your clothes from coming into contact with contaminated droplets and particles. Disposable gloves help to keep your hands clean and dry while lessening the chances of you touching a contaminated surface, such as a shopping trolley, and then your face. (Research has shown that on average we all touch our faces around 23 times an hour. That’s over 360 times a day – and over 134,000 times a year!)

However, the most important thing to remember is hand hygiene. Hand washing in warm water with soap is one of the most effective ways of helping to keep the virus at bay, by removing dirt and killing germs. Don’t forget to wash your hands for a minimum of 20 seconds, cleaning all areas of the hands, in between the fingers and on the back of the hands thoroughly too. If you feel you don’t have the patience for this, try singing “Happy Birthday” twice as this helps to ensure that you have washed for the right length of time!

Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to keep them clean and protect them from germs, with hand sanitiser and wipes being a useful, alternative, especially when out and about or when soap and water isn’t readily available. Alcohol based hand sanitisers (containing over 70% alcohol) state that they kill 99.99% of bacteria.

Disinfectant spray and wipes help to keep surfaces clean too.

If you have any concerns or would like further reading why not visit the Coronavirus advice page from NHS or the Government’s page.

Stay safe.