We get so many questions these days about how best to protect families from Ebola. We all know even basic protective clothing is in short supply because of the worldwide reaction to this frightening disease. But let’s not give up all hope just yet.
If you are worried about protection from infectious diseases – this is code these days for Ebola – there are simple ways to protect yourself and your loved ones from brief contact with an infected person. While sustained contact with an Ebola patient calls for more extreme methods of protection, not getting infected from incidental contact is as much about the right mindset as it is about high-tech protective clothing.
Like everyone out there, we are in short supply of the types of disposable DuPont clothing designed to protect first responders. In fact, our Head Honcho here at PK Safety was recently interviewed by Time Magazine about preparing for the apocalypse. But a short supply of some items doesn’t mean there is no protection available.
Simple N95 disposable respirators are still in stock and do provide protection against airborne infection. These are the types of masks the CDC recommended during the avian flu scare. Do these provide complete protection from a massive cloud of infected aerosol? Probably not. But if your challenge is making it to the grocery store and back with the best, most reasonable protection available, simple, disposable personal protective equipment (PPE) is available.
Most of us are aware that Ebola is contracted through bodily fluid exchange with an infected person. Blood, sweat, and excrement make up the mass of infected material, therefore keeping safe is a matter of keeping these infected items away from your eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and exposed cuts. And that’s really the best answer – keep your cuts, eyes, nose, and mouth covered.
You don’t need a full-face Moldex respirator to keep you safe. Sure, they’re great. But they’re also expensive, and overkill (currently) for your trip to the Piggly Wiggly. Chemical splash goggles also provide excellent protection. But your old, ugly wrap-around sports glasses that your wife won’t let you wear anymore can provide a significant level of protection from airborne particles as well.
If you feel there was any possibility for infection then remember to leave those dust mask (ie. disposable respirator) outside after you’ve taken it to a potentially infected area. And you’ll need to actually dispose of it. Don’t re-use something that has been potentially infected.
Boots like the Onguard PVC boots can be reused if they are carefully cleaned after each trip. Leave these outside as well. The DuPont Tyvek suits cannot be cleaned or reused if there was any exposure to infected particles. And while they’re not what you want in the WHO tent in Liberia, they do supply light liquid splash resistance and are a barrier to particulate matter.
Gloves are also important. Just remember disposable gloves are just that – disposable. Tyvek suits and disposable gloves are not designed for doctors, first responders, or care-givers to people with Ebola. What they can provide is coverage for your body. For now, for the vast majority of possible contact with this frightening virus, it will suffice.