We have heard the phrase “unprecedented times” more in the last few weeks than ever before. Uncertainty and unpredictable events bring about unfamiliar situations with unusual responses. Everyone wants to help, and to keep their families safe, but sometimes those objectives lead to unwittingly dangerous situations.
Here are some guidelines to follow to ensure your own safety, and that of others, as we navigate new ways to protect ourselves and those around us.
- Hand sanitizer – Alcohol-based hand sanitizer effectively kills most germs carried on the hands. It also contains ethyl alcohol, which readily evaporates at room temperature into an ignitable vapor and is considered a flammable liquid. To minimize the risk of fire, applied hand sanitizer must be rubbed into hands until dry, which indicates that the flammable alcohol has evaporated. Hand sanitizer containers and refills should be stored away from children, and away heat sources or open flames.
- Gasoline – With prices exceptionally low, people are filling up and storing gas. Be sure to use containers that are intended for gasoline storage that allow for the liquid to expand and contract. Gasoline containers need to be placed on the ground when filling. Flowing gas entering the container can create static electricity. The gas dispenser nozzle can create a spark and ignite the gas vapors. The correct way to fill a gas can is to remove the gas can from your car or truck and place it on the ground about five feet from your vehicle.
- Masks – Many different kinds of masks are being worn to help slow the spread of COVID-19. While homemade cloth masks may be washed following the Centers for Disease Control recommendations, other masks such as the N95 or disposable surgical masks cannot be thoroughly disinfected without jeopardizing the integrity of the mask (although researchers are working on protocols for this). Always refer to manufacturer’s guidelines when available, or refer to the CDC recommendations on these types of masks. Never place a mask in the microwave; metal fixtures may melt or spark, and fabric is flammable.
Visit NFPA’s COVID-19 page to find up-to-date information and resources.