Cloth face coverings and gloves have become a common sight in our stores, restaurants and other public places. These protective measures can help flatten the curve, and it’s important you know how to properly put on and take off each piece of protective item.
Cloth Face Coverings
The CDC now recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public places where practicing social distancing my be difficult, such as the grocery store or pharmacy. For a face covering to be most effective, there are a few things you should know.
Cloth face coverings should:
- Fit snugly but comfortably against the sides of your face
- Be secure with ties or ear loops
- Be made of multiple layers of fabric
- Allow for air flow and breathing without restriction
- Be able to be washed and machine-dried without damage to the fabric or change of shape
Additionally, cloth face coverings should not be used on children under the age of 2, anyone who has trouble breathing or anyone who is unconscious or unable to remove their face covering without help.
How to Put on a Face Covering
The golden rule of wearing a face covering is that you should wash your hands any time you touch it! That means before putting on your face covering you should wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If possible, try to avoid touching the face covering while using it, but if you do have to touch your face covering, make sure wash your hands or use hand sanitizer immediately afterward.
How to Remove your Face Covering
When removing your face covering, make sure you don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth. You should always wash your hands after removing your face covering, and your face covering should be machine-washed and dried regularly.
It’s important to note that face coverings recommended for public use are not surgical face coverings or N-95 respirators, as these are critical supplies needed for hospitals and healthcare workers. If you would like to make your own face covering, the CDC has several tutorials for at home face covering projects.
If you decide to wear gloves while shopping, getting gas or running other errands, it’s essential that you don’t engage in cross contamination. Cross contamination occurs when you touch items in a public space like your shopping cart, your canned goods or the gas pump and then touch your face, phone or car door with the same gloved hands. Gloves are only effective in preventing community spread when they are used for isolated interactions. With that being said, as long as you aren’t touching your face or personal items such as your phone, keys or car, you can stick to simple handwashing before and after coming in touch with potential germs.
If you still want to use gloves, it’s important that you remove gloves properly to reduce the risk of introducing any germs to your clean hands.
How to Remove Your Gloves
- Using a gloved hand, pinch the palm area of the other gloved hand and peel off the first glove
- Hold the removed glove in your gloved hand
- Next, slide singers of the ungloved hand under your remaining glove at the wrist and peel off the second glove
- Place both gloves in the trash can immediately after use
- Wash hands your hands thoroughly:
- Wet your hands with clean, running water and apply soap.
- Lather soap in your hands, applying to the back, front, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
Outside of protective outerwear, the best thing you can do to protect yourself and your family is to stay safe at home. Utilizing pickup and delivery methods when available can help limit the amount of contact you have with others, which flattens the curve and keeps you healthy.
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The information in this blog post is accurate at the time of publication. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to change, it's possible that information has changed since being published. While Ochsner Health is trying to keep our blog posts as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations by using the CDC website.