Effective, Safe Ways to Wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Effective, Safe Ways to Wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Personal protective equipment, or PPE, is in the news a lot with the current COVID-19 pandemic. You’ve probably seen doctors or healthcare workers in masks, gowns, and shields working with patients. Needing to use PPE probably feels a little scary, but it can keep you healthy and protect you from the virus or other infections spread through droplets. As long as you follow the right steps to put it on and wear it properly, it can help you avoid getting sick while working or living around infected people.

Method 1 of 3:
Putting Your Gear On

Image titled Wear Personal Protective Equipment Step 1
1
Wash your hands before touching your equipment. It’s very important to sanitize your hands so you don’t contaminate your PPE. Either wash your hands or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to kill any germs on your hands before getting started. [1] X Trustworthy Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Main public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human Services Go to source Scrub your hands well when you’re cleaning them. Remember to clean up to your wrists, between your fingers, and around your fingernails.[2] X Trustworthy Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Main public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human Services Go to source
Image titled Wear Personal Protective Equipment Step 2
2
Secure the isolation gown around your torso. The isolation gown is a large smock that covers your body from your neck to your knees. Put it on by sliding your arms into the sleeves and pulling it around your neck and torso. Then reach behind yourself to tie the straps behind your neck and waist to close the opening on your back. [3] X Trustworthy Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Main public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human Services Go to source Make sure your gown fits properly. If it’s too small, you won’t get the best protection. If you can’t reach around your back, someone else can help you tie the gown. Just make sure they wash their hands first.[4] X Trustworthy Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Main public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human Services Go to source If you're working with hazardous chemicals or liquid waste, the World Health Organization also recommends a rubber apron or waterproof gown over your main gown.[5] X Trustworthy Source World Health Organization Health information and news provided by the World Health Organization Go to source
Image titled Wear Personal Protective Equipment Step 3
3
Put a mask or respirator over your nose and mouth. Press the respirator against your face so it fits snugly over your nose and mouth. Then slide the straps behind your ears or over your head, depending on the type of mask you’re using. Adjust the mask so it stretches below your chin and onto your cheeks. This prevents you from breathing in any germs and getting sick. [6] X Trustworthy Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Main public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human Services Go to source Check your mask to make sure it’s snug and there are no openings around the sides. Adjust it now if you have to, because you shouldn't touch your mask once you've been around infected people. Ideally you should wear an N95 respirator or above for the most protection or if you’re already infected, but use a regular facemask if respirators aren’t available.[7] X Research source If you can, wear a surgical mask that covers your nose and mouth and then protect yourself with a face shield.
Image titled Wear Personal Protective Equipment Step 4
4
Cover your eyes with goggles or a face shield. Either of these will work to protect your eyes from germs. Fit the strap around the back of your head so it rests just above your ears. Then adjust the goggles or mask so they cover your eyes completely and sit comfortably against your face. [8] X Trustworthy Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Main public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human Services Go to source If you’re wearing goggles, they should press against your face and cover your eyes on all sides. The loose, glasses-type goggles don’t have enough protection for PPE, but they're better than nothing if you don't have a choice. Even if you wear a full face shield, you still need to wear a mask or respirator. The shield isn’t closed on the sides, so you can still breathe in virus droplets from the air.[9] X Research source
Image titled Wear Personal Protective Equipment Step 5
5
Pull your gloves over the wrists of your isolation gown. Put rubber gloves on each hand. Then grab each one from the back and pull it up over the cuff of your gown. Make sure there is no skin showing. [10] X Trustworthy Source World Health Organization Health information and news provided by the World Health Organization Go to source Standard, disposable rubber gloves are fine for PPE. There are also thicker rubber gloves used for cleaning that could work. No matter what type of gloves you use, make sure there are no cracks or tears in them. Use a new set if yours are damaged at all.
Image titled Wear Personal Protective Equipment Step 6
6
Put on rubber boots or shoe coverings if there's a risk for splashing. Foot protection is recommended for some types of PPE, especially if you're around any liquid waste. If you have rubber boots, put these on last. Otherwise, use rubber shoe coverings to protect your feet from contamination. [11] X Trustworthy Source World Health Organization Health information and news provided by the World Health Organization Go to source If you don't have rubber boots or shoe coverings, heavy, water-resistant boots can also work. Since COVD-19 is an airborne virus, experts don't currently recommend boots or shoe coverings as part of essential PPE. This is meant more for chemical or sanitary spills, or diseases where people could be bleeding, like Ebola.[12] X Research source
Advertisement

Method 2 of 3:
Preventing Infections with PPE

Image titled Wear Personal Protective Equipment Step 7
1
Put on PPE if you're around people with active COVID-19 infections. PPE is suggested for people with consistent, close contact with COVID-19 patients. If you work or live in an area with a lot of COVID-19 patients, then wear PPE for protection. [13] X Trustworthy Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Main public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human Services Go to source You may also be told to wear PPE if you’re in the hospital and have COVID-19 to avoid spreading it to others. If you’re out in the general public and not around people with active infections or symptoms, then you don’t need PPE. The World Health Organization recommends wearing a cloth mask and maintaining a social distance of 6 ft (1.8 m).[14] X Trustworthy Source World Health Organization Health information and news provided by the World Health Organization Go to source There are also other reasons to wear PPE, like sanitation work or deep cleaning.[15] X Trustworthy Source US Occupational Safety and Health Administration U.S. government agency responsible for setting and enforcing workplace safety standards Go to source However, the main use right now is for medical staff or caregivers around COVID-19 patients.
Image titled Wear Personal Protective Equipment Step 8
2
Don’t touch or adjust your PPE while you’re wearing it. Once your PPE is on and you’re around patients, the outside of the gear is contaminated, especially your gloves. Don’t readjust your mask, goggles, or gown, or you risk infecting yourself. Especially keep your hands away from your face. [16] X Trustworthy Source World Health Organization Health information and news provided by the World Health Organization Go to source Try to cut down on the number of things you touch if you can avoid it. This reduces the number of germs you’ll pick up. If your gear is falling off or not fitting correctly, leave the area and get new equipment.
Image titled Wear Personal Protective Equipment Step 9
3
Change your gloves before touching a new patient. If you’re working with several different COVID-19 patients, be careful about cross-contamination. Always change your gloves before touching another patient. [17] X Trustworthy Source World Health Organization Health information and news provided by the World Health Organization Go to source Always remove your gloves by pulling them from the back and turning them inside out as you pull them off. Throw them out in a marked receptacle to avoid contamination. If you touch the outside of the gloves at any point, sanitize your hands.
Image titled Wear Personal Protective Equipment Step 10
4
Double your gloves if you’re carrying a patient or equipment. Carrying people or moving heavy equipment puts stress on your gloves and might tear them. Put on another pair of gloves over the first pair. This keeps you protected if your outer glove rips. [18] X Trustworthy Source World Health Organization Health information and news provided by the World Health Organization Go to source You could also wear thicker rubber gloves if you’re doing a lot of heavy lifting. These should resist tearing better than disposable medical gloves.
Image titled Wear Personal Protective Equipment Step 11
5
Get new gloves if your pair is broken or damaged. Never continue working with broken or ripped gloves. As soon as you notice any damage, go wash your hands and get a new pair immediately. [19] X Trustworthy Source World Health Organization Health information and news provided by the World Health Organization Go to source Don't put on a new pair of gloves without washing your hands first. Your hands could be contaminated from the broken glove.
Advertisement

Method 3 of 3:
Removing Your PPE Safely

Image titled Wear Personal Protective Equipment Step 13
1
Remove your face shield or goggles by pulling them from the strap. Reach behind your head and grab the strap. Slip the strap up and over your head to pull the shield off your face. [20] X Trustworthy Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Main public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human Services Go to source If the shield or goggles are reusable, put them in the appropriate container for cleaning. Otherwise, throw them in a marked waste container. The outside of the shield is contaminated, so don’t touch it. If you do touch it by accident, make sure you wash your hands before taking off the rest of your gear.
Image titled Wear Personal Protective Equipment Step 15
2
Slide the mask or respirator over your head. Reach around your head and grab the back of the strap for your mask. Lift the strap over your head or around your ears, depending on what type of mask you’re using. Then pull the mask off your face and throw it away. [21] X Trustworthy Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Main public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human Services Go to source The front of the mask is contaminated, so don’t touch it. Some respirators are reusable. If yours is, put it in the appropriate container for cleaning.
Image titled Wear Personal Protective Equipment Step 14
3
Turn the gown inside out as you pull it off. Reach behind yourself and untie the straps by your neck and waist. Then reach inside the gown around your neck and grab the inner layer. Pull it forward off of your torso and turn it inside out as you pull. Either throw it out or put it in a specified container for cleaning. [22] X Trustworthy Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Main public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human Services Go to source Keep your arms far away from your face when you reach back. The outsides of the sleeves are contaminated. There is also another removal procedure where you can untie the gown with your gloves still on. Then, as you pull the gown off, you’ll also remove the gloves so they’re wrapped up in the gown. This is a little tricky, so it’s not recommended for beginners.
Image titled Wear Personal Protective Equipment Step 12
4
Take off your gloves by pinching them from the back. Removing your gloves without contaminating yourself is a bit of a process. First, pinch the back of one of your gloves and pull it forward. Let the glove turn inside-out as you pull it off. Hold that glove in your gloved hand, and slip your bare finger under the base of your other glove. Slide that off the same way and let it turn inside out. Always throw your gloves away to prevent contamination. [23] X Trustworthy Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Main public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human Services Go to source If at any point you touch the outside of the glove, wash your hands right away before moving on. Taking your gloves off last prevents you from touching potentially contaminated items with your bare hands.
Image titled Wear Personal Protective Equipment Step 16
5
Wash your hands thoroughly when all your gear is off. Even if you were careful removing your gear, your hands could still be contaminated. [24] X Trustworthy Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Main public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human Services Go to source Scrub your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water. Remember to wash up to your wrists, between your fingers, and under your fingernails to make sure you kill any germs on your hands. [25] X Trustworthy Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Main public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human Services Go to source Also wash your hands at any point during the removal process if you touch the outside of your gear. Washing your hands with soap and hot water is one of the most effective ways to prevent COVID from spreading. You could also use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if you aren’t near a sink to wash your hands.
Advertisement

Method 1 of 3:
Putting Your Gear On

Image titled Wear Personal Protective Equipment Step 1
1
Wash your hands before touching your equipment. It’s very important to sanitize your hands so you don’t contaminate your PPE. Either wash your hands or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to kill any germs on your hands before getting started. [1] X Trustworthy Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Main public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human Services Go to source Scrub your hands well when you’re cleaning them. Remember to clean up to your wrists, between your fingers, and around your fingernails.[2] X Trustworthy Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Main public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human Services Go to source
Image titled Wear Personal Protective Equipment Step 2
2
Secure the isolation gown around your torso. The isolation gown is a large smock that covers your body from your neck to your knees. Put it on by sliding your arms into the sleeves and pulling it around your neck and torso. Then reach behind yourself to tie the straps behind your neck and waist to close the opening on your back. [3] X Trustworthy Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Main public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human Services Go to source Make sure your gown fits properly. If it’s too small, you won’t get the best protection. If you can’t reach around your back, someone else can help you tie the gown. Just make sure they wash their hands first.[4] X Trustworthy Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Main public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human Services Go to source If you're working with hazardous chemicals or liquid waste, the World Health Organization also recommends a rubber apron or waterproof gown over your main gown.[5] X Trustworthy Source World Health Organization Health information and news provided by the World Health Organization Go to source
Image titled Wear Personal Protective Equipment Step 3
3
Put a mask or respirator over your nose and mouth. Press the respirator against your face so it fits snugly over your nose and mouth. Then slide the straps behind your ears or over your head, depending on the type of mask you’re using. Adjust the mask so it stretches below your chin and onto your cheeks. This prevents you from breathing in any germs and getting sick. [6] X Trustworthy Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Main public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human Services Go to source Check your mask to make sure it’s snug and there are no openings around the sides. Adjust it now if you have to, because you shouldn't touch your mask once you've been around infected people. Ideally you should wear an N95 respirator or above for the most protection or if you’re already infected, but use a regular facemask if respirators aren’t available.[7] X Research source If you can, wear a surgical mask that covers your nose and mouth and then protect yourself with a face shield.
Image titled Wear Personal Protective Equipment Step 4
4
Cover your eyes with goggles or a face shield. Either of these will work to protect your eyes from germs. Fit the strap around the back of your head so it rests just above your ears. Then adjust the goggles or mask so they cover your eyes completely and sit comfortably against your face. [8] X Trustworthy Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Main public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human Services Go to source If you’re wearing goggles, they should press against your face and cover your eyes on all sides. The loose, glasses-type goggles don’t have enough protection for PPE, but they're better than nothing if you don't have a choice. Even if you wear a full face shield, you still need to wear a mask or respirator. The shield isn’t closed on the sides, so you can still breathe in virus droplets from the air.[9] X Research source
Image titled Wear Personal Protective Equipment Step 5
5
Pull your gloves over the wrists of your isolation gown. Put rubber gloves on each hand. Then grab each one from the back and pull it up over the cuff of your gown. Make sure there is no skin showing. [10] X Trustworthy Source World Health Organization Health information and news provided by the World Health Organization Go to source Standard, disposable rubber gloves are fine for PPE. There are also thicker rubber gloves used for cleaning that could work. No matter what type of gloves you use, make sure there are no cracks or tears in them. Use a new set if yours are damaged at all.
Image titled Wear Personal Protective Equipment Step 6
6
Put on rubber boots or shoe coverings if there's a risk for splashing. Foot protection is recommended for some types of PPE, especially if you're around any liquid waste. If you have rubber boots, put these on last. Otherwise, use rubber shoe coverings to protect your feet from contamination. [11] X Trustworthy Source World Health Organization Health information and news provided by the World Health Organization Go to source If you don't have rubber boots or shoe coverings, heavy, water-resistant boots can also work. Since COVD-19 is an airborne virus, experts don't currently recommend boots or shoe coverings as part of essential PPE. This is meant more for chemical or sanitary spills, or diseases where people could be bleeding, like Ebola.[12] X Research source
Advertisement

Method 2 of 3:
Preventing Infections with PPE

Image titled Wear Personal Protective Equipment Step 7
1
Put on PPE if you're around people with active COVID-19 infections. PPE is suggested for people with consistent, close contact with COVID-19 patients. If you work or live in an area with a lot of COVID-19 patients, then wear PPE for protection. [13] X Trustworthy Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Main public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human Services Go to source You may also be told to wear PPE if you’re in the hospital and have COVID-19 to avoid spreading it to others. If you’re out in the general public and not around people with active infections or symptoms, then you don’t need PPE. The World Health Organization recommends wearing a cloth mask and maintaining a social distance of 6 ft (1.8 m).[14] X Trustworthy Source World Health Organization Health information and news provided by the World Health Organization Go to source There are also other reasons to wear PPE, like sanitation work or deep cleaning.[15] X Trustworthy Source US Occupational Safety and Health Administration U.S. government agency responsible for setting and enforcing workplace safety standards Go to source However, the main use right now is for medical staff or caregivers around COVID-19 patients.
Image titled Wear Personal Protective Equipment Step 8
2
Don’t touch or adjust your PPE while you’re wearing it. Once your PPE is on and you’re around patients, the outside of the gear is contaminated, especially your gloves. Don’t readjust your mask, goggles, or gown, or you risk infecting yourself. Especially keep your hands away from your face. [16] X Trustworthy Source World Health Organization Health information and news provided by the World Health Organization Go to source Try to cut down on the number of things you touch if you can avoid it. This reduces the number of germs you’ll pick up. If your gear is falling off or not fitting correctly, leave the area and get new equipment.
Image titled Wear Personal Protective Equipment Step 9
3
Change your gloves before touching a new patient. If you’re working with several different COVID-19 patients, be careful about cross-contamination. Always change your gloves before touching another patient. [17] X Trustworthy Source World Health Organization Health information and news provided by the World Health Organization Go to source Always remove your gloves by pulling them from the back and turning them inside out as you pull them off. Throw them out in a marked receptacle to avoid contamination. If you touch the outside of the gloves at any point, sanitize your hands.
Image titled Wear Personal Protective Equipment Step 10
4
Double your gloves if you’re carrying a patient or equipment. Carrying people or moving heavy equipment puts stress on your gloves and might tear them. Put on another pair of gloves over the first pair. This keeps you protected if your outer glove rips. [18] X Trustworthy Source World Health Organization Health information and news provided by the World Health Organization Go to source You could also wear thicker rubber gloves if you’re doing a lot of heavy lifting. These should resist tearing better than disposable medical gloves.
Image titled Wear Personal Protective Equipment Step 11
5
Get new gloves if your pair is broken or damaged. Never continue working with broken or ripped gloves. As soon as you notice any damage, go wash your hands and get a new pair immediately. [19] X Trustworthy Source World Health Organization Health information and news provided by the World Health Organization Go to source Don't put on a new pair of gloves without washing your hands first. Your hands could be contaminated from the broken glove.
Advertisement

Method 3 of 3:
Removing Your PPE Safely

Image titled Wear Personal Protective Equipment Step 13
1
Remove your face shield or goggles by pulling them from the strap. Reach behind your head and grab the strap. Slip the strap up and over your head to pull the shield off your face. [20] X Trustworthy Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Main public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human Services Go to source If the shield or goggles are reusable, put them in the appropriate container for cleaning. Otherwise, throw them in a marked waste container. The outside of the shield is contaminated, so don’t touch it. If you do touch it by accident, make sure you wash your hands before taking off the rest of your gear.
Image titled Wear Personal Protective Equipment Step 15
2
Slide the mask or respirator over your head. Reach around your head and grab the back of the strap for your mask. Lift the strap over your head or around your ears, depending on what type of mask you’re using. Then pull the mask off your face and throw it away. [21] X Trustworthy Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Main public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human Services Go to source The front of the mask is contaminated, so don’t touch it. Some respirators are reusable. If yours is, put it in the appropriate container for cleaning.
Image titled Wear Personal Protective Equipment Step 14
3
Turn the gown inside out as you pull it off. Reach behind yourself and untie the straps by your neck and waist. Then reach inside the gown around your neck and grab the inner layer. Pull it forward off of your torso and turn it inside out as you pull. Either throw it out or put it in a specified container for cleaning. [22] X Trustworthy Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Main public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human Services Go to source Keep your arms far away from your face when you reach back. The outsides of the sleeves are contaminated. There is also another removal procedure where you can untie the gown with your gloves still on. Then, as you pull the gown off, you’ll also remove the gloves so they’re wrapped up in the gown. This is a little tricky, so it’s not recommended for beginners.
Image titled Wear Personal Protective Equipment Step 12
4
Take off your gloves by pinching them from the back. Removing your gloves without contaminating yourself is a bit of a process. First, pinch the back of one of your gloves and pull it forward. Let the glove turn inside-out as you pull it off. Hold that glove in your gloved hand, and slip your bare finger under the base of your other glove. Slide that off the same way and let it turn inside out. Always throw your gloves away to prevent contamination. [23] X Trustworthy Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Main public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human Services Go to source If at any point you touch the outside of the glove, wash your hands right away before moving on. Taking your gloves off last prevents you from touching potentially contaminated items with your bare hands.
Image titled Wear Personal Protective Equipment Step 16
5
Wash your hands thoroughly when all your gear is off. Even if you were careful removing your gear, your hands could still be contaminated. [24] X Trustworthy Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Main public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human Services Go to source Scrub your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water. Remember to wash up to your wrists, between your fingers, and under your fingernails to make sure you kill any germs on your hands. [25] X Trustworthy Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Main public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human Services Go to source Also wash your hands at any point during the removal process if you touch the outside of your gear. Washing your hands with soap and hot water is one of the most effective ways to prevent COVID from spreading. You could also use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if you aren’t near a sink to wash your hands.
Advertisement