This is a guide to staying safe with masks and gloves for non-medical people.
The Coronavirus Pandemic may make you consider using PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) to avoid infection while you are out in public.
Hopefully, this advice from a dentist with 35+ years of safe infection control practices will keep you safe as we deal with COVID-19.
Can I Protect Myself using Mask and Gloves?
Should a non-medical person wear masks and gloves? And what are current best practices for safety of general public?
On April 5, 2020, our national health authorities recommended wearing a face covering in public spaces.
But the most important advice from experts still holds:
- Stay away from social gatherings and public spaces.
- Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently with soap and water.
- Do not touch your face.
- Wear gloves and masks appropriately.
PPE use for General Public
Are gloves and masks needed—-and safe—during this COVID-19 crisis? Should the non-healthcare public use gloves and masks with no training in the use of personal protective equipment?
Yes! We can benefit from gloves. We can wear a mask properly, as both the CDC and Surgeon General now recommend.
This post will help the general public safely wear PPE.
I understand the current debate over whether or not gloves and masks should be worn by all. Be very careful to use the right protocol in wearing them if you do. Stay vigilant in hand washing and diminish social contact as much as possible.Dr. Bill Cranford
How to Place Masks and Gloves to avoid infection
Here I use the protocol my office uses for using Personal Protective Equipment to recommend practices for the public to follow.
Important: Follow a set order if you are using mask and gloves. If you fail to do this, you could slip and contaminate your mask or gloves.
How to put on gloves and face mask for safety from infections:
- Wash hands
Wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, then rinse and dry using clean disposable paper. Use hand sanitizer generously if you are unable to wash hands.
- Lay out mask and gloves
With your very clean hands, carefully place the mask and gloves on a disinfected surface or a new paper towel.
- Place disinfected eyeglasses over bottom edge of mask
Pick up glasses from back end. Do not touch front part of glasses.
- Pull gloves over hands
Pick up wrist edge of one glove, then slip in other hand. Repeat with the other hand. Pull gloves as far up as possible on arm.
- Place mask on face
Use ties to pull mask across face, then loop or tie strings around ears. Pull up to eyes and down around chin. Pinch mask at nose bridge.
Warning after placing PPE
Do not touch mask or glasses. Constantly remember: Gloves are dirty once they touch ANYTHING. Do not touch face with gloved hand.
Dr. Cranford Video: How to Put on Mask and Gloves
How to Remove Mask and Gloves to Avoid Infection
Remove Personal Protective Equipment in reverse order from the glove placement protocol.
- Remove glove by pulling up up from palm area with other gloved hand.
- Hold removed glove with hand that is still gloved.
- Place ungloved finger under other glove at wrist.
- Remove second glove, pulling it over first glove.
- Discard inside out glove ball.
- Remove glasses or face gear from the back.
- Put glasses in designated place to be disinfected.
- Put finger under mask ties, then pull of without touching front.
- Discard mask, with finger still under ties.
- Wash hands for 20 seconds or use alcohol based hand sanitizer.
Warning after Removing PPE
Think of gloves as contaminated, not sterile. Always throw masks and gloves into trash containers. Never leave out or throw on ground. And avoid touching face as you remove gloves and mask.
Dr. Cranford Video: How to Remove Mask and Gloves
Should I use Masks and Gloves for Infection Protection?
Ask yourself these questions before deciding if you want to wear protective equipment:
- Am I willing to follow safety steps in using masks and gloves?
- Will I feel safer and more secure if I wear PPE?
- Do I think that masks and gloves will help me protect others?
Then wear PPE only if you put it on, use it, and remove it in the correct way.
And always remember the most important rules of infection control. You should stay safe with or without gloves and masks by obeying these rules:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water.
- Do not touch your face with your hands.
I know that gloves and masks help protect staff and patients in the dental office. We place and remove PPE many times every day. The safety practices we use will also keep the public safe. I recommend following a checklist until the safety protocol becomes habit.Dr. Bill Cranford
Current Debate on Mask and Glove Use
We have had confusing debate during the Coronavirus Pandemic over public use of personal protective equipment (PPE). Information and misinformation on the subject is overwhelming.
From the New York Times, April 5, 2020
There is uncertainty about how much protection is optimal. No one knows. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention gives conflicting advice and other countries have varying standards.Nicholas Kristof, NY Times Journalist
On February 29 our Surgeon General pleaded with Americans to stop buying masks. Now he is posting videos on how to make face masks.
From the World Health Organization, March 2020
Masks are commonly misused and will not be as protective as hoped, the agency said, citing research suggesting they can give a false sense of security and could lead people to ease up on handwashing, for instance. Taking off a mask so it no longer covers the nose, or touching the outside can also make it less effective.
Education from the Dental Office
At our dental office we have followed CDC and American Dental Association guidelines infection control since 1985.
I was in the early implementation group for the “new” Hepatitis B vaccine in 1979. This kept dentists and their patients safe.
The onset of HIV in the early 1980’s brought disinfection practices that became the new and better normal. It was then that dentists began to use gloves and masks as a standard of care.
Dental Office Safety
Our dental office constantly focuses on patient and staff safety:
- Dentists and staff train annually in infection control protocol.
- Office practices infection control daily.
- Staff puts on and remove PPE multiple times per day.
- We prepare as if every patient has an infection.
Our goal remains the same: We want to keep our patients and staff healthy.
My advice on personal safety from infection reflects the practices of my dental office. I trust that it will help the public stay safe.
Understandably, infection control experts disagree on the use of gloves and masks by the public.
Our office protocol may seem too much for a brief grocery run; but I contend that the public must use PPE correctly for it to help prevent disease.
And I believe that if you apply just one or two suggestions from my dental office, you are safer than using masks and gloves without knowing safety rules.
How can Cranford Dental help you?
Please contact our office online or call us at 803-324-7670 if you have questions or concerns about face masks and gloves. We would love to help you feel safe during these hard days of dealing with the Coronavirus.
During this trying time for our country, I am encouraged by the expressions of love and concern of community.
You have been kind and encouraging to our staff members, who miss being away from patients and friends at the office. I appreciate your concern.
Please call if you want to talk about concerns with this terrible virus or worries about your dental health. We are available and would love to stay in touch.
We will overcome this health crisis. Stay safe, stay hopeful, stay helpful, and stay home.Dr. Bill Cranford