Personal Protection Equipment is key to preventing the spread of Ebola as healthcare workers and others rely on it to prevent being infected. If in an emergency situation you need to be in contact with an Ebola patient you may need to have an understanding of the equipment used as well as more readily available substitutes.

The below image shows a standard PPE suit but an Ebola suit requires the face, eyes, mouth and feet to be covered in addition to the basic covering depicted in the image. Many of the components of an Ebola PPE suit can be replaced with household equipment in an extreme emergency if required.

Standard PPE Suit

By Protectepi (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The principal of Ebola PPE is to seal your body off from exposure as much as possible while still remaining reasonably mobile. A full PPE suit is incredibly difficult to wear for long periods of time and the longer a health worker is in PPE the higher the chance for mistakes becomes. Dehydration and heat exhaustion are very real risks while donning protective suits.

List of Equipment & Reasonable Alternatives.

Safety Goggles/Face Shield

The eyes need to be protected from possible contact with the virus at all times. A pair of safety goggles and or a face shield should provide sufficient protection in most instances. Medical safety goggles are very cheap however if needed you can replace them with hardware store goggles. A medical face shield may also be replaced with a hardware store face shield.

Coverall/Apron

The coverall and apron provide protection for the body area particularly from contact with bodily fluids. Disposable aprons and coveralls are often used by health care workers. A common replacement can be made with refuse bags. It is critical to maximize the the coverage and tape up any holes with duct tape or another strong adhesive tape.

Gloves/Feet Coverings

Health care workers wear two pairs of gloves and seal the coverall to the gloves with medical tape or duct tape. A pair of kitchen gloves could be used a reasonable alternative.

N95 Mask/Respirator

There is no confirmation that Ebola is airborne and as such it is generally sufficient to wear at least an N95 mask to protect against aerosol particles. The primary purpose of the mask is to protect the mouth from contact with the virus. N95 equivalent masks may be available at your local hardware store. In extreme situations a folded scarf or piece of cloth may provide limited protection.

Sprayers/Cleaning

HCW’s are sprayed down by another worker before and during the suit removal process. A bleach solution can be mixed at home to provide a suitable cleaning mixture. A mixture containing 3 parts of water to 1 part of beach is known to kill the Ebola virus within minutes.

Golden Rules

  • Do not touch your face
  • Do not wear a PPE suit for extended periods of time
  • Be careful when removing any equipment to avoid contact with the equipment
  • Dispose of any materials that may have had contact with the virus
  • If for any reason you must clean the equipment do so with a bleach mixture of at least 1:3.
  • Do not leave any part of your body exposed if possible.
  • Beware of bodily fluids at all times.
  • Leave the handling of Ebola and its victims to trained experts where possible.

Possibly Useful Equipment

You may have some helpful equipment nearby without realizing it.

  • UV Lights can kill viruses, you may have a “black light” in the house or if you work in a shop the fake money detector light is usually UV.
  • Garden pesticide sprayers can be used to spray a bleach or chlorine mixture. Remember to wash it well before and after use.
  • Safety goggles and face shields are often bundled with power tools.

Always remember that by coming into contact with an Ebola patient you are placing yourself at risk of infection. Health workers are often infected while adhering to strict standards and as such contact is not recommended.