One of the most effective and simple preventative measures against exposure is personal protective equipment, referred to as PPE. Putting on the proper PPE is the first step that you should take in a potential exposure situation, as it is essential to have a barrier between yourself and the potentially infectious material.

Disposable gloves are the most commonly used PPE and should be made of nitrile, rubber, or other water-impervious material. You should always inspect gloves before putting them on to ensure there are no perforations, cuts, or tears in the material. If you have any cuts or sores on your skin, you should bandage the area first, before putting on the gloves.

When taking off the gloves, do so in a careful manner. Roll up the end of the glove from the wrist toward the fingers so that the glove is inside out. Before completely removing the first glove, use that hand to roll up the other glove, never touching the outside of the glove with your bare hand. Dispose of the gloves in the proper container so that no one else comes in contact with the potentially contaminated surfaces of the gloves.

Anytime there is a potential for splashing or spraying blood, such as in trauma cases or when cleaning up spilled blood, more extensive PPE should be used, including face and eye protection. Goggles should be used in these circumstances to protect the thin membranes of the eyes. Face shields may be used in addition to goggles to protect the nose, mouth, and face from exposure.

Gowns, aprons, or lab coats can also be worn to protect your clothing and to keep blood and other contaminated fluids from soaking through to your skin. In addition, resuscitation bags or pocket respirators with one-way valves should be used by medical or first aid personnel when performing CPR.

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