Florida has been moving vigorously to ease restrictions on businesses and schools. On September 14th, Broward and Miami-Dade counties became the last Florida counties to move into Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Phase 2 reopening plan, allowing movie theaters and restaurants to open and restaurants to welcome more customers. The state is also allowing bars and nightclubs to reopen and requiring schools to open classrooms—even as officials scramble to find ways to deliver an online education for kids whose parents don’t want them rubbing elbows with other children in hallways, buses, and cafeterias. These steps to reopening take advantage of the lull in numbers of new coronavirus cases and a significant drop in the percentage of positive tests.
However, according to the COVID Tracking Project, Florida is only second to California in terms of cases and just ahead of Texas nationally. During this time, security personnel are not only expected to continue their usual levels of service to the public but are also expected to assist in community and government efforts to combat the virus. The government’s basic guidelines include social distancing techniques like staying at least six feet away from other people, avoiding hand contact with your face, and washing your hands thoroughly. In addition, experts recommend applying hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content when hand washing isn’t an option. To properly protect yourself and those with whom you come into contact with, practice these four security protocols as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Recognize the Signs and Symptoms of COVID-19
According to experts, the symptoms of COVID-19 can include everything from a dry cough and difficulty breathing to a fever. If you encounter anyone with these symptoms, you will probably be required to deny them access to your job site. Unfortunately, symptoms sometimes may not be present, depending on when the person contracted the virus. After exposure, symptoms can appear in as few as two days or may not appear for as long as two weeks. (Some people who are carrying the virus may never show any symptoms.) This means that it’s possible to encounter people who appear to be completely healthy but could actually be transmitting the disease. Your job site should have policies in place to reduce the risk of exposure from asymptomatic individuals, as well.
Use Recommended Personal Protection Equipment
As a security guard, you can’t protect others if you’re not protecting yourself. Personal protection equipment (PPE) is a vital part of reducing the spread of COVID-19 and includes all of the gear used by medical professionals, scientists, and others who need to limit exposure to pathogens and illnesses. You need to make sure you are provided with quality equipment such as NIOSH-approved particle respirator masks, protective eyewear, disposable latex gloves, disposable single-use isolation gowns, and coveralls. Each piece of PPE is worn for a reason and wearing it all ensures the maximum level of protection—for yourself and others.
Protect Yourself from Exposure
As you will have to interact with members of the public, observe proper social distancing, and follow all protocols for examining credentials, conducting security searches, and engaging in any form of communication. Also, be sure to practice proper hand hygiene and refrain from touching your face with unwashed hands. If your job site requires that visitors be subjected to temperature checks or other health measures, follow those protocols exactly to ensure everyone’s safety. If you come into contact with someone who appears to have symptoms of COVID-19, have trained EMS or EMT personnel assess them. They may need to be transported to a medical facility.
Respond to Possible Exposure Accordingly
Depending on who you come into contact with, it’s possible that you or your clothing or gear may be exposed to the virus. If that happens, quickly clean and disinfect your duty belt and other gear properly. Use a household cleaning spray or wipe, according to the product label. Some of your PPE will need to be discarded, to avoid any possible spread of the virus. Follow standard procedures for the containment and disposal of a used PPE and for containment and laundering of clothes. It’s also imperative that you document any possible exposure, as well as the procedures you followed in response to the incident. Your employer and job site should have provided you with relevant emergency contact information to notify the correct authorities. You may need to be tested for COVID-19 exposure and, if that’s required, your employers should have procedures in place to ensure that testing is accomplished in a timely manner.
Above all, if you are aware of who you’re coming into contact with, watch for signs of exposure, keep your distance and follow common sense hygiene protocols, you should be at a low level of risk. Careful adherence to recommended guidelines is key in combating the virus and keeping Florida safe, so stay safe, stay healthy, and don’t hesitate to ask for EMS/EMT assistance if you think you need it.