Masks & Gloves

Posted on: February 13, 2011

by Deborah
in the UP of MI

There are many types and grades of masks and gloves on the market, each having their own level of function. A wide variety is good to keep on hand.

Masks can range from a simple Surgical style (loops over the ears) to painters dust masks (semi-rigid), to the increasingly popular N-95, or N-99.. And beyond. What they are being used to block will have a heavy bearing on which one should be used, and I got a good lesson today on proper fitting.

With the weather here in the UP of MI mild and temps flirting with 45*, I took the opportunity to give my wood cook stove a mid-winter cleaning. Anyone that’s ever done this knows it’s a messy, sooty job, so I donned my food server plastic gloves (just wanted to keep my hands clean), and the N-95 mask that’s tucked in the warming oven for this type of job. The N95 Particulate Respirator has two elastic bands that holds it snug to the face, preventing edge seepage. I slipped the top band around the back of my head, leaving the bottom band loose, (after all, I wasn’t trying to block a virus or anything that small) and proceeded to take apart and brush down the stove. When I was finished, I took the mask off, noticing some soot on the inside. I checked the mirror and saw soot along the side of my nose, that was covered by the mask….it shouldn’t have been there. I blew my nose, and sure enough, more soot, which means I was breathing it. I immediately used my Netti-Pot to flush my sinus’ and clean my nose, then I tossed out that mask. Lesson learned: no matter how much of a hurry I’m in, I need to properly fit my mask to the job. Had that been a virus I was dealing with, I’d be sick now.

The gloves I used were sufficient for the job at hand. (bad pun, sorry) I merely wanted to keep my hands clean and I wasn’t being exposed to anything toxic to the skin. Using harsh chemicals for cleaning, I would use one of the many styles of surgical gloves, which would block skin absorption. Gloves are only as efficient as the user though. If your gloves are contaminated, how you take them off will determine whether you contaminate your skin, and therefore yourself. One very good practice method is to put gloves on, then ’wash’ your hands with shaving cream… now take the gloves off. If you get the shaving cream on your skin, you’ve just ’contaminated’ yourself.. Keep practicing!

Properly using a face mask and gloves, could mean sickness or life/death to you or your loved ones during a pandemic or other biological outbreak.

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