Shoppers are donning disposable gloves in supermarkets, pharmacies and in any stores that are still open for business. However, unless you use and dispose of these gloves correctly, just like any other protective covering, you’ll defeat the purpose.
Experts say you should think about them as condoms for the hand with a lot more to risk from improper procedures putting them on and taking them off.
According to Mic, although the virus is spread primarily through respiratory droplets when an infected person sneezes, coughs or even talks, there is evidence that touching contaminated surfaces can lead to infection.
Jacquelyn Gill, associate professor at the University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute, points out that gloves can keep you from transmitting germs to your face, as well as your keys, car door, or other surfaces.
But, she says, “people need a primer on how to use disposable gloves properly.”
- Make sure your gloves fit well. Gloves that are too tight will break, raising your risk of exposure, says Suzanne Willard, a nurse clinician and associate dean for Global Health at Rutgers School of Nursing. Gloves that were too loose will slide around, increasing your vulnerability, according to Mic.
- Change them often. “The only way gloves are effective is if you change them as often as you should wash or sanitize your hands,” says Gill. If you touch your phone with your gloves and then touch your face, the phone germs are now on your face. Gloves may create a false sense of security, adds Willard. Be mindful of the surfaces you touch, and change your gloves accordingly, says Mic.
- Remove them safely. This handy video demonstrates a special technique to remove your gloves safely and bunch them into a neat bundle for disposal, says Gill. “I can’t believe I need to add this, but don’t remove your gloves with your teeth. Ever.”
- Use one gloved hand to carefully peel off the other, and then use the forefinger of the bare hand to slide the second glove off, wedging it inside the wrist and never touching the outside surface.
- Don’t sanitize them. Willard tells Mic that doing so only transfers the germs from your gloved hand to the bottle of sanitizer.
- Safely dispose of them. Do not throw them on the sidewalk, says Willard. This puts others at risk. Use an outdoor trash can or place them in a bag until you reach a trash can.
- Wash your hands afterward. As soon as you remove the gloves, wash your hands thoroughly since gloves can differ, allowing germs to pass through porous material.
- Don’t reuse them. Again, like condoms, their effectiveness wains the more you wear them, says Gill.
Remember that gloves do not preempt social distancing and other precautionary measures, say Willard. “You can’t be going out all the time,” she says. “You need to be staying home.”
While disposable gloves may be hard to find, as of today Walmart, Home Depot, Staples and Office Depot have them in stock, says USA TODAY.
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