In our last post we discussed basic information about COVID-19. Today, I’m* going to cover some ways that you can minimize your risk.
Truck driving is a germaphobe’s nightmare. From thousands of hands touching the same fuel pump handle each day, trash and “other waste” in the truck stop parking lot, some drivers with less than ideal hygiene standards, and dirty bathrooms and showers, we are constantly bombarded with germs.
The key to minimizing your risk of COVID-19 is to minimize the possibility of these germs being absorbed into your body – either from direct inhalation of moisture droplets from someone who already has the virus or from touching a contaminated surface.
AVOIDING INHALATION OF COVID–19
Distance is your primary method of avoiding inhalation. The CDC recommends six feet. I recommend as much as possible. Avoid being close to groups of drivers collecting outside of shippers and receivers and at truck stops.
When you are forced to be closer to other drivers and workers (like when waiting in line at a shipper or receiver or truck stop), stay back from them as much as possible. Six feet is ideal, but you may be in a cramped office. If so, do the best you can. There is no perfect situation.
Most importantly, if you see someone coughing or sneezing, create distance immediately. Try to hold your breath and step away as quickly as possible. Your goal is to minimize how much infected moisture you inhale.
Another option to consider is a mask or respirator. I have already seen several drivers wearing these while waiting in line at a shipper / receiver. Most all public health officials recommend an N95 mask to filter viruses like COVID–19.
AVOIDING CONTAMINATED SURFACES
Avoiding contaminated surfaces gets a little more in–depth and can be tailored to fit your situation and your level of concern of infection. A somewhat silly but easy way to think about contamination is to pretend that everyone has peanut butter on their hands. If they touched a fuel handle, they would leave peanut butter all over it. It’s your job to keep the peanut butter off of your hands, wash away or disinfect the peanut butter, and at all costs, keep it from getting on your face! It’s difficult to do, but you should try as hard as you can not to touch your face, especially if you’ve just been in an environment that could be contaminated.
HERE IS A LIST OF SUPPLIES THAT YOU COULD/SHOULD USE FOR CONTAMINATED SURFACES
Nitrile, Latex, or Rubber Gloves
This is your first line of defense. Gloves provide a protective barrier between your skin and the outside world. Buy in bulk if you can. You’re going to use a lot of them when pumping fuel, touching door handles, or contacting any surface that is likely contaminated. You should assume that if someone other than you touched it, it could possibly be contaminated.
These provide another barrier for your hands. I tend to use these for nearly everything I do outside of my truck anyhow so this isn’t a big change for me. Just keep in mind that viruses can potentially stick to leather or synthetic work gloves.
Soap and Hot Water
Washing your hands frequently and thoroughly is a huge step towards minimizing risk. Wash your hands every time you get the chance. Use hot water and plenty of soap. While washing, do something like singing or counting to make sure you wash for at least twenty seconds. Make sure to wash thoroughly – between fingers, fingertips, front and back of hands, and wrists. When finished, avoid touching likely contaminated surfaces as much as you can.
Hand Sanitizer (60% Alcohol Minimum)
Hand sanitizer is a second line of defense after hand washing or a replacement when you have no way to wash. As with gloves, try to buy a lot of hand sanitizer. You should be using it a lot!
These wipes are good for sanitizing surfaces inside and outside of your truck, especially after you’ve likely contaminated the inside of your cab.
You should use disinfectant spray throughout your truck at least once per day or anytime you think you may have somehow contaminated your seat, your bunk, or your floors. You could also use disinfectant spray on your boots before entering your truck to keep contamination from getting on your floor. That may seem like overkill, but think of it like this. You walked through a truck stop bathroom. You jumped back into your truck. While cruising down the road, you drop the lid off your soda bottle onto the floor. Without thinking, you pick it up and screw it back onto the bottle. Within a minute you unscrew the lid and take a drink. Now think about the same scenario but with peanut butter all over the truck stop bathroom floor. Think you’d get enough peanut butter on your face or for a microscope to see it?
*Please note that I am not a doctor, professional health care provider, or public official. All statements are my own opinion and are not to be confused with professional medical advice.