The coronavirus pandemic has brought the entire world to its knees. Since it started spreading in early 2020, the virus has infected millions of people and resulted in the deaths of several thousand people. The respiratory illness is highly contagious and easily spreads from person to person via respiratory droplets. Symptoms of the virus can appear in as little as two days up to 14 days after the initial exposure.
To control the spread of the virus and flatten the curve of infections, the US government has introduced several measures and regulations, such as mandatory stay-at-home orders and social distancing protocols. The CDC suggests keeping a distance of at least six feet from other individuals in case they are infected. As a result, most people have started working from home and are only leaving their houses for necessary errands such as groceries or health issues.
The Impact Of COVID-19 On the Police Department
However, essential workers such as first responders, healthcare workers, and law enforcement officers are still doing their duties and risking exposure to the virus. The rate of infection among police officers, jail personnel, and suspects is quite high, according to The Washington Post. This suggests that there need to be stricter policies in place to protect law enforcement officers from the virus.
Already many departments have imposed additional safety regulations along with the standard policing practices to safeguard their officers. Several police departments have reduced custodial arrests and taken measures to decrease jail populations. But officers are still being exposed to the virus at an unprecedented rate, which has led to many police departments introducing disinfecting and cleaning rules to prevent contamination of duty gear.
Tips To Disinfect Police Duty Gear After Potential Exposure To The Virus
Here some tips for police officers to safely disinfect and clean their duty gear and uniform after each shift to prevent exposure to the virus:
Set A Designated Space for Your Dirty Gear at Home
The first thing you need to do when you get home from duty is to be careful where you place all your gear. If you are in the habit of just throwing your boots, jacket, holster, and other stuff anywhere in the house, you will increase the risk of contracting the virus for yourself and your family. A good strategy is to create a designated space in the house where you put all your gear and clothes, which is out of reach of small children. A shelf in the laundry room, a table in the hallway, or the garage are all good options to keep you dirty and contaminated gear. It will also make it easier for you to clean and disinfect it because you will have all your stuff, including the cleaning products in one place.
Read the Instruction Prior To Cleaning and Disinfecting
Before you begin the cleaning and disinfecting process, you must read all the labels and instructions for your clothes, boots, and duty gear. This will give you a better idea of how to handle and clean everything without damaging and ruining anything. Reading the labels is also important as it will increase the life of your gear and ensure your safety while cleaning and disinfecting them.
Clean Your Gear to Remove Any Visible Dirt
The first step when disinfecting the gear is to clean all visibly dirty surfaces thoroughly. Use regular detergent or soap and water to wash your duty clothes before you can disinfect them. Wipe all your gear and equipment including your taser and pepper spray container with a damp cloth to remove dust, dirt, and debris. For dry and caked mud, you can use a scouring pad with powder or liquid soap to assist in cleaning.
Disinfect All Surfaces and Equipment Properly
Once you have cleaned up the gear and your clothes have been washed, you can proceed with the disinfecting process. Wearing a mask during the disinfection process prevents you from accidentally touching your face and mouth with possibly contaminated hands. Always use surface-safe disinfectants such as Lysol, antibacterial soaps, EPA-registered disinfectant wipes, or a 10% solution of household chlorine bleach for your gear.
Spray your clothes with disinfectant spray before hanging them out to dry. Wipe down all surfaces and gear, including the bench on which you have placed it with disinfecting products. Allow all the products to air dry after you are sure all the microorganisms have been eliminated.
Use CDC Approved Antibacterial Products and Tools
Make sure the products you’re using for the cleaning and disinfecting process have been approved by the EPA as well as the CDC. Many cleaning agents include harsh chemicals that are not only bad for the environment but can also damage your gear in the long run. Using disinfecting products that have ingredients approved by the CDC will ensure that all microorganisms have been removed, and your gear has been disinfected properly.
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