Coronavirus Hygiene, How to Wear Masks, Gloves and Goggles
The ins and outs of protective gear and how to not infect yourself or others
The “We” in this article is a small but dedicated group of preppers on doomsday. This is the collective experience of ex-military and other professionals, but dialed down to much lesser degree for civilians. More importantly it’s not doomsday prep, but coronavirus prep. We will have another article soon on how to shop for these. Join us if you have questions
How to Wear Masks & Respirators
Typical N95 Mask with Exhaust Valve
We start with Masks (actually respirators), Goggles and Gloves because there is going to be a time, and that time is now, that human cross-infections occur in public and shared private spaces. We want to prevent this as much as we can to contain the pandemic as much as we can. It is best to use disposable “N95” or higher filtration spec masks, such as N100, R95, R100, P95, and P100. In Europe the specs have different names, but similar standards. We believe the differences in various spec respirators are minor to none in regards to viruses, because they are so small, starting around 15 nanometers. That is so small you need an electron microscope to observe. The hope is really that the virus comes into contact with some part of the mask and sticks to it, and it could be any layer inside the mask. Common blue surgical face masks are better than nothing, but are seen as not nearly as effective as a real respirator. Disposable respirators are designed for single use, so you will need 30–50, depending how many times you go in and out of potentially contaminated places. It should be discarded every time from returning from the outside before coming inside. Could you save the mask and try to decontaminate later with alcohol or even sunlight? Maybe, but cross-contamination is risky and the mask would start to lose effectiveness and eventually deteriorate, exposing you more than you would like. Remember, the virus can be lurking not on the surface, but inside the weaves and layers of the mask. They are just not designed for multiple uses, especially for viruses which they are not designed for in the first place. Also, you yourself are contaminating the mask with your own bacteria, just like you do with clothing, which you can wash, but not disposable masks. If desperate, yes you can use sunlight, spritzing alcohol and so forth. But be very careful spraying alcohol around, we have seen people start house fires by accidentally spraying AC units or heating elements with alcohol in attempts to disinfect their homes. Some have died!
UPDATE: We recommend UV lights especially the Karis Professional Grade UV Sanitizer, but it’s been sold out
A lot of the preppers crowd have gotten full on face shields or full face respirators (gas masks). While they generally seal much better and cover more of the face, they have to be decontaminated and that’s very tricky, also, at the very least the respirator pads would need to be swapped out every outing, and then the whole device needs to be cleaned of viruses, very tricky, So you would need two sets if going out regularly. Decontamination could be submerging in alcohol, bathing in UV ultraviolet light class C, or both, other ways. Very time and resource intensive for uncertain increased security. It is your choice.
How to Wear Goggles, Eye Protections
Goggles cover the eyes, which is generally a very exposed part of the body sensitive to various microbes such as bacteria and viruses, even multi-cell parasites. The fear about Coronavirus is that it is “airborne” but the truth is all viruses have that ability, since they are so incredibly small. They have the ability to interact with air molecules and float for enormous distances, probably miles. Just think how far pollen can travel. Viruses are much smaller and can travel farther, who knows how far into the atmosphere they go? However, they generally die in doing so. Viruses need certain conditions to live. Now, yes, aerosolized water droplets let them live, and let them travel for distances for up to distances of sneezes, toilet flushes and so on. But technically, it is not “airborne”. It just means water droplets are smaller and travel more than humans think about normally, and this virus can live for a certain amount of time encapsulated in water. Therefore, you simply want to shield your eyes in public and enclosed private spaces, to eliminate the risk of micro water droplets contacting your eyeballs that you cannot see. We would assume that every outing that we would have to decontaminate the goggles by washing with soap, or spraying down with cleaner, maybe alcohol again, or both. Again be careful not to ignite alcohol. It is probably a good idea to have several pairs.
There is an open debate as to whether or not the goggles or gas masks are required to be “skin tight”. It is likely much more important for health care workers dealing with infected patients. A drop of sweat from the brow, then seeping into a eye, nasal cavity, mouth etc, would be the end for that nurse or doctor, if they don’t have a full on hazmat suit. For civilians, having virus cells on the surface of the skin is probably okay, and as long as the face, hands, and skin in general is sterilized or washed appropriately after returning. Coronavirus cannot infect skin tissue, we are fairly certain, otherwise we would see skin lesions. This thinking is reasonably “good enough”, so we don’t require “skin tight” or “fully sealed” eye wear. Of course, it is your choice on how far you would like to go. We simply present the minimum.
How To Use Gloves
Gloves are super important. We recommend keeping a bag on person at all times when outside. Drugstore kinds tend to break easily. We recommend “heavy duty” or 5 to 7 mm spec if you can find at say Harbor Freight Tools. You want to don a new pair upon entering and then dispose not exactly on exit, but just before you enter the next “safe zone”. In epidemiological containment scenarios, there is the concept of green zones and red zones. You need to practice this in your real world situations. You assume your home, maybe the inside of your car, your spaces, are “green zone”. Red zone is basically any other space. Gloves are a good way to get used to this way of thinking. You must put on new gloves when leaving a green zone, keep them on all throughout red zone, and dispose of them when out of red zone, but you must also know when the next green zone exactly is before you take off the gloves and also how to handle the transition. Just because you left a building and are on the sidewalk doesn’t mean it’s green. It’s another red zone. Not until you are at the door of your car or home are you approaching green zone. Even then, you might drop the old contaminated gloves, put on new gloves just to handle the door, and then drop those outside and then enter. Of course it would be much better and less risky if you had something like disinfectant wipes or spray at the ready at your entrances. Then you could drop the gloves, handle disinfectant, disinfect the handle, and then enter, and then fully wash hands for 20 seconds before touching anything in the green zone. For a car, using hand sanitizer before even handling car keys, steering wheel, any surface would be best. We have seen many infected people intentionally spit on car doors, elevator buttons and even spitting on people. We have named them BioTerrorist Spreaders.
Protocols For Returning Home
You can spray yourself down with alcohol for instance, upon returning to the home or car, and then shower being careful not to inhale, open eyes, for the first minute. You would also want to simply place clothes straight into the washing machine, or separate into a safe box for contaminated clothes to wash. Shoes are kind of tricky, you can spray down the uppers and the soles of your shoes and leave by the door. Some people are wearing shoe covers, but they are not durable and there is always a chance of cross-contamination when putting on or removing protective gear, so it may lead to a false sense of security. At this point you might as well go full hazmat suit with complete gas mask and etc. That is reasonable for healthcare workers. Normal civilians should simply be aware of potential contamination areas and using reasonable protocols like green zone / red zone and other steps to not cross-contaminate is the best practice.
How to Handle Cell Phones
One final tip, we recommend you never handle your cell phone outside your home or in a designated “green zone”. It is probably the easiest way to goof up and cross-contaminate yourself. If you must handle, you should then treat the phone itself as “red zone” and sterilizing it over and over may or may not be effective, we actually don’t know. It is a complex surface area many crevices not even including the case and it’s not reasonable to be certain it is completely “wiped down”.