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How Useful Are Face Masks, Hand Sanitizers, and Gloves?

Many of us today do not leave home without their personal protective equipment (face mask, hand sanitizer and gloves, etc.). But how necessary are any of these products in common situations? We see many people walking around, alone and without any chance of close contact with others, and yet they are still wearing a face mask and gloves. In fact many people are driving around in their cars alone and yet are still wearing their face masks. As a comparison, you wouldn't need to wear a winter coat in the heat of summer. Sure it's better than walking around with no clothes on, but you'll certainly be overdoing it.

Like any healthy lifestyle, there needs to be a balance, but also a need to understand what is or is not necessary. Needless to say, there are certain cases where we take way too much precaution, and in other cases, way too little. Any personal protective equipment product you choose, you should understand when it is or when it is not necessary to wear or carry.

Face Masks

If there's no chance of coming in contact with any other individual, there really is no need to wear a face mask. We're referring to you being alone in your car, alone at home, etc.. When it comes to being out in public, still there are times when it's not necessary. Perhaps you are at the park and you are miles away from people, this would certainly be a safe time not to wear a mask.

So is it really necessary to wear a face mask at all times. Remember first and foremost, a face mask very rarely protects you from airborne bacteria or viruses, because they can still infect by other mean via eyes or other parts of your skin. On the flip-side, what that does mean, is that you are protecting others more than you are protecting yourself from illness. Wearing a mask also reminds others to be cautious, but that really depends on the perception of others and how much they might be worried about someone around them being contagious.

If you feel ill or have a fever, then there's certainly a huge reason to wear one in public and in close contact with others. However, further to that, you should also consider if you are feeling ill, you should probably not be going to public places unless absolutely necessary. During times of Covid-19 pandemic, there have been many cases where those who are contagious have no symptoms at all, which is still a reason to wear a mask in public.

Hand Sanitizers

Lately many people are carrying around their hand sanitizer bottles, and new requirements in stores and public places require people to sanitize their hands before entering. Is this a fair request? Considering that most people hardly wash their hands to begin with, it is quite reasonable. To put it another way, most people don't recall how many objects or surfaces they've touched in between washing their hands.

Any object or surface that a person may have touched in public could be contagious, and the more objects or surfaces touched in a span of time, increases those chances. Sanitizers definitely create a layer of protection by disinfecting, but always keep in mind, the most effective way to eliminate chances of infection of hands and body in general is to wash with running water and soap. That approach will always be more effective than hand sanitizer.

Gloves

There's a lot of confusion as to when to wear gloves, also which types of gloves to wear. Gloves are always a preferred means of protection when you know you will be touching many objects or materials that others in public will be touching as well. You do need to keep in mind though, for the moments you touch certain objects, you need to make sure you don't touch other parts of your body such as your face.

Gloves will protect your hands from infection to a certain extent, therefore you need to be sure you take them off once potential activity of exposure is over. Also consider that bacteria and viruses are invisible, and that makes it difficult to know when you've come in contact with them. Consider that if you touched your phone with your gloves while touching other objects that may have been infected, it will also pass on bacteria and germs to your phone. You therefore have not benefited from wearing gloves in that case, unless you disinfect your phone right after realizing this.

Recommended Tips to Avoid Germ Infection and Exposure

Whether or not you use these products to protect yourself, the following best practices are recommended at all times:

  • Wash your hands with soap frequently, especially before and after going to the restroom, preparing food and eating a meal, touching animals or toys, treating a wound, or touching other people's hands.
  • Stay at home if you feel sick or have a fever.
  • Avoid crowded places, especially where others are not wearing face masks, and keep your distance as much as possible, whenever possible.
  • Wipe surfaces with disinfectant in your immediate surroundings, if you are certain there is a risk of contamination.
  • When washing hands is not possible, use hand sanitizer frequently.

These are only some of the basic guidelines, but if you are looking for more information and tips, make sure to visit the Center for Disease Control website for the latest information.


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