After masks, gloves, face shields, and hand sanitisers, the demand for hazmat suits seems to be on the rise even among the general public, especially flyers. But is wearing a hazmat suit truly necessary while flying? Find out below. By Smrithi Suresh
The pandemic has alarmingly increased the number of preventive measures undertaken by the public to avoid transmission of Coronavirus, especially while travelling. Even as airlines have started to resume operations after months-long hiatus, passengers’ safety is their utmost priority. However, on an individual level, travellers are taking every possible step to stay protected from the virus. Other than donning masks, gloves, face shields and hand sanitisers, many have started buying hazmat suits as well.
So, we spoke to a few experts to understand if regular travellers must invest in a hazmat suit before boarding a flight.
As we all know, the purpose of these waterproof suits is to stop hazardous chemicals or virus from entering the human body. But experts opine that masks, gloves, sanitizers and social distancing, suffice for a common man.
“Flying with hazmat suits is not necessary and might add a false sense of security for co-passengers. Unless a traveller is flying in an aeroplane with known Coronavirus cases or has a health issue like immunodeficiency disorders, hazmat suits are a bit of an overkill,” says Dr Ajay Ramesh, a Resident doctor at Ramesh Clinic, Bengaluru, further advising the use of N95 masks with ‘NIOSH’ grading (American) or FPP2 grading (EU), along with eye goggles or face shields.
“Ideally, these suits are used to protect those who are exposed to infected patients for a long period of time like healthcare professionals. Safety measures like social distancing and wearing face masks are sufficient to protect you from infection. In fact, when a common man uses a hazmat suit without proper knowledge of its donning and doffing procedure, it could lead to self-contamination while removing the equipment. It also has a higher chance of exposure to the virus,” adds Dr Vinay Devraj, Consultant in Infectious diseases at Apollo Hospital in Bengaluru.
In fact Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends “that people wear cloth face coverings in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.”
Highlighting some of the issues one might face while wearing a hazmat suit on-board, Dr Ramani R, Consultant, family physician at Balaji Clinic in Tiruppur, Tamil Nadu, further informs, “PPE kits can cause high discomfort and leave you dehydrated. It can also lead to excessive sweating, thereby, making it difficult for you to sit at one place for a long period of time. It can even make going to the washroom a task, and can make you feel low on oxygen.”
Other than using face shields and masks, experts also suggest, travellers should wash their worn clothes as soon as possible post the journey, and take a long shower, to keep viruses at bay.
The demand for hazmat suits among travellers has been on the rise since Supermodel Naomi Campbell was spotted donning one along with other protective gears at the airport. Many companies like VYZR Technologies have started launching ideas for fashionable ‘Level A’ hazmat suits for travel. Different varieties of suits are already available online at a starting price of approximately INR 300.