As coronavirus spreads across the globe faster than Bieber-fever, there’s something travelling faster than the virus itself; fear.
The Indonesian government has enforced restrictions on the public’s movement in an attempt to curb the spread of coronavirus. However, some of us don’t have the luxury of being in total isolation and still have to show up at our jobs, because unfortunately, not every line of work can be done remotely. At times like these, every step you take walking out of your door brings a risk of a fatal infection. You’d definitely want to have the best protection out there.
The problem emerged when a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, masks, and hazmat suits started happening in Indonesia, as well as many other countries around the globe during the outbreak. Fueled by misinformation among the public, people started to panic buy medical equipment, which is in high demand by those on the front lines.
A hazmat suit costs around Rp200,000 online, which I’m sure is affordable to some, but just because you can afford one doesn’t necessarily mean that you should buy it. Perhaps you saw a video of a couple who went grocery shopping wearing hazmat suits in Jakarta that went viral mid-March? They received tons of backlash from the public, many branding them “selfish” and “inconsiderate.”
To raise awareness with the public, the Indonesian Health Ministry has stressed that PPE like surgical masks and hazmat suits, are to be prioritised for medical workers. Besides, PPE is not something you can simply dispose of in the garbage; there are procedures for how to dispose of it properly. Let’s forget about getting a hazmat suit and leave them for those who need them most.
In the meantime, you might be wondering about how someone can get the best protection when stepping out of their homes? The purpose of PPE is to minimise the risk of exposure to droplets in the air containing the virus. By now, you should be well aware that SARS-CoV-2 spreads through the tiny drops that come out of your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze and are infected. I decided to make a homemade protective suit using items I have at home, inspired by my friend who is a doctor, who posted a picture of herself on social media wearing a modified rain suit as an alternative.
Here’s what you need:
- Rain suit: preferably a two-piece rain suit that comes with a jacket and trousers. Bear in mind, you should wear clothes underneath this. If you don’t have a rain suit, a poncho or trash bag is okay, but you can’t reuse them because these are not sustainable.
- Latex gloves: I use re-usable latex gloves for cleaning around the house, but you can use plastic gloves as an alternative.
- Duct tape: choose a waterproof and durable type.
- Rubber boots: you can still wear your rubber boots outside of a muddy music festival.
- Homemade mask*: don’t panic, I’ll explain this part soon.
- Sunglasses or glasses.
Let’s get started
- Put on the rain suit and cover your head with the hood. Rain suits usually have a hood but if yours doesn’t, you’ll need a hair cover like a shower cap to protect your hair from collecting
- Next, secure the sleeves with duct tape to make sure that the sleeves are air-tight.
- Wear the rest of the items; rubber boots, gloves, and cloth-based mask. I just use sunglasses to cover my eyes. If you want to be creative, you can find a tutorial on how to make protective goggles online.
Returning to that cloth-based mask; you can make it at home! Recently, health authorities in Indonesia have suggested that cloth-based masks are sufficient to prevent the spread of coronavirus by up to 70 per cent.
(*) Here’s what you’ll need for the homemade, cloth-based mask:
- Inner lining: clean cotton cloth that you can get from an old t-shirt, ensuring it’s stretchy and breathable.
- Outer lining: clean, worn-out pants, flannel, or canvas. I’m using an old pair of trousers that are 97 per cent cotton and 3 per cent elastane.
- Sewing kit
- Measuring tape
- I followed the tutorial about how to make this cloth-based mask from an Instragam account @buzzfeednifty
- To make this homemade, cloth-based mask, it requires you to do basic stitching. Don’t worry, I’m terrible at this too. Keep in mind, you need to ensure the stitching is strong and won’t break apart when the mask is washed.
Verdict: Does the suit make me look ridiculous? Yes. Is it worth the trouble? Maybe; it depends on how far you want to protect yourself when outdoors.
Ideally, it’s very important that you don’t purchase any medical PPE. Also, it’s worth noting that you can re-use this PPE once cleaned down with disinfectant – you have to be clean before and while wearing it too. Besides, it can be a fun project during your isolation!