Right now the only thing you see on the internet, social media and news outlets are stories about the ever-growing virus plaguing the world right now. But the bottom line is, law enforcement officers are exposed to many things all the time, some worse than others, so it is always a good idea to know how to be germ-cautious in that line of work.
This is NOT a post about scare tactics or fear-mongering. Instead, this is a way to answer the many messages I am getting about tips to best prepare as a law enforcement family.
While many people (some, definitely not all) are able to work remotely or change their scheduled plans, shifts for law enforcement officers must go on. Some are told to report earlier or well-past their shift hours or their schedules are changing to mandatory 12-hour shifts if they weren’t already doing so. They continue their jobs NO MATTER WHAT.
So it is no surprise that spouses and loved ones of law enforcement officers are asking about tips to keep their loved one’s exposure down. The biggest concern that many law enforcement families have about is how to keep their spouse protected when they come into contact with so many members of the community and germ exposure.
These are absolutely valid concerns and it is important that safety precautions are taken by emergency personnel when dealing with the public or concerning situations, no matter what they are.
How to be germ-cautious as a law enforcement officer (+ family):
Practice good hand-washing techniques.
This is a given, right? But yet so many still need constant reminding. When law enforcement officers are busy going from call to call it can be hard for them to find time to find a restroom with soap and water. The next best way to kill germs then is with hand sanitizer as frequently as possible. Using a moisturizer in-between hand washing and sanitizing is also good to avoid dry and cracked hands.
This is obviously one of the number one ways to be germ-cautious.
Wipe down and sanitize all duty belts and gear as frequently as possible.
Keeping items like Lysol Wipes or Clorox Wipes in their patrol car is ideal so they can wipe down equipment (radios, car door handles, computers, cell phones) and duty belts in between calls and heavily populated areas they may be in.
All else fails, use an antibacterial spray; anything that kills germs effectively will work.
Leave all gear, boots and work clothing outside or at work.
Boots/work shoes are the big one here. They contain a LARGE number of germs and bringing these into your home only spreads them.
I recommend leaving all gear, work boots and clothing either in a garage or in your locker at work to avoid bringing them into your home. (More on clothing below).
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Keep changes of clothes handy.
I often keep clean changes of clothes in the garage for my husband or he puts them in the garage in advance. If he can’t change at the office, then he can change at home without bringing exposed clothing into the house. The dirty clothes go right into a bag or bin and are tossed directly into the washing machine to be laundered. The clean clothes are kept in another bin for him to change in to.
In addition, going directly into the shower upon arriving home is a good habit to have and one that many law enforcement officers take after shift regardless of exposure.
Wash uniforms daily/wear clean uniforms.
Some officers wash their uniforms at home, some take them to the dry cleaner. Do what works best for you, but please always wear a clean uniform to shift each day to reduce the spread of germs. It’s just a good practice to adopt.
Have disposable gloves and protective eyewear handy.
These should be items that officers keep in their patrol cars all of the time. My husband keeps an emergency bag in the trunk of his car with items he may need at any given time. You may not need them all of the time or you may never need them, but it is better to be safe than sorry.
The CDC goes into more detail on recommendations for law enforcement to be more germ-cautious specifically in this article.
| It’s important to note that the CDC says “For law enforcement personnel performing daily routine activities, the immediate health risk to germ exposure is considered low. Law enforcement leadership and personnel should follow CDC’s Interim General Business Guidance. |
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