One of the most important ways to fight the spread of the coronavirus is to use proper personal protective equipment or PPE. The most common types of PPE used to combat COVID-19 are face masks and gloves. At some point, everyone in the UK has used these in recent months. Social distancing and using PPE properly are an important step in preventing new infections. Equally important is the proper disposal of these items.
Disposing of Gloves
Most of the people using PPE don’t have the virus, and with any luck, they won’t contract it. However, they still need to be careful when handling PPE. Remove gloves without touching the outside surface. Start by gripping one glove at the wrist with the other, still gloved, hand. Roll it off, exposing the inside and touching the outside as little as possible. Then, use the rolled up glove to remove the other glove. Dispose of the gloves in a normal black bin bag, then wash or sanitize hands before handling food or touching the face.
Handling Used Masks
It’s advisable for people who don’t work in healthcare to wear reusable cloth masks. This ensures that frontline workers have access to surgical or N95 masks. Be careful not to touch masks more than needed. Handle them by the ear loops whenever possible. Try not to touch the front. Particularly avoid handling the inside portion that covers the nose and mouth, where any droplets may have accumulated. Wash masks in warm water and dry thoroughly. Dispose of single-use masks in black bin bags and wash or sanitize hands after doing so.
Why Disposal and Not Recycling?
PPE may contain infections droplets. It’s not meant for recycling. Do not place masks or gloves in your wheelie bin. Never just drop them on the ground. Masks and gloves pose a risk to wildlife and small children. Hold onto them in a pocket and bin them at home if no public rubbish bins are available.
Special Considerations for Infected Persons
It’s particularly important for people with COVID-19 to use PPE to prevent spreading the infection of others. Follow all the same procedures and precautions listed above with two exceptions. The first is that used PPE should be double-bagged in black bags. The second is to hold these black bin bags for 24 to 72 hours. After this time, it’s safe to put them out. This precaution can prevent the spread of active virus to others.