By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Some states are already relaxing restrictions put in place to curb coronavirus. While life may never really be the same as it was before the pandemic, one thing is clear – Americans are hankering to get back to travel. The fallout in oil prices has made for the lowest costs at the fuel pump in decades. But how can you fuel up and keep safe from COVID-19?
Personal care company Kimberly Clark tells us that even before coronavirus became a household name, gas pumps were some of the nastiest places around for being a germy surface. It’s not difficult to imagine some yo-yo, standing in front of the gas pump, wiping his nose on his hands before grabbing the fuel nozzle. Yuck! And since the coronavirus can hang around for a long time on a metal surface, the chances for virus transfer are way too high. So it’s time for a little personal protection.
When you step out of your rig, take a pair of disposable gloves with you. Put them on, THEN proceed to your transaction. Don’t wait until you’re ready to grab the fuel nozzle, because there’s other things you’ll need to touch before you start dispensing. In almost any fuel pump transaction, you’ll need to touch at least one button, maybe more. How many people have touched those buttons before you got there?
Gloved up, order your transaction, and sure enough, you’ll also have to slide or tap your card. Now fuel up your rig and replace the fuel nozzle and close your rig’s fuel port. What’s next? We’ll make the assumption that the printed receipt is probably untouched by viruses, but don’t grab it quite yet.
First, carefully remove those disposable hand-covers. Grab the outside of one of the gloves near the wrist, but don’t touch your skin. Peel the glove away from your body, pulling it off, inside-out. Hold the “offed” glove in your other (gloved) hand. Now stick your bare fingers inside the wrist end of the remaining glove and pulling it off, inside-out, away from your body. You’ll leave the first glove inside the second glove, and toss them both in the trash.
Now your hands are free, but before you head back inside your rig, use hand sanitizer to complete cleaning up. At this point, we put a dollop of the hand sanitizer on one hand, and use some of it to clean our credit card. We then scrub well for 20 seconds, and then fetch the fuel receipt.
Here’s an alternative method if you’re caught without gloves. When you reach for the pump, use a disinfectant wipe to FIRST wipe down the handle, trigger and other parts of the nozzle mechanism that you might touch. When using this method, we also wipe down the first inch or two of the fuel hose – because sometimes we unthinkingly grab it to stabilize the whole works. Use the wipe to handle any buttons or touch-screen spots. We’ve found that with a wipe between your fingers and a touch-screen point it may take more than one whack for the screen to respond. Handle the nozzle with the wipe too, just as an added protection. Using the wipe method doesn’t negate the need for hand sanitizing!
Yep, it takes more time to go through all these hoops when pumping fuel. But we feel it’s a whole lot better than possible alternatives of pumping fuel bare-handed.