Disinfection and cleanliness have been quite the prevailing topic of discussion in the industry currently. Your AV team is most likely considering the best way to guard your equipment from disease and contagion. While there might be many differing opinions on the best measures to take to prevent the spread of germs and illness, there are some practical steps you can implement that can alleviate the risk and worry. I’d love to share some that we at Springtree believe are essential.
To preface this, I feel it’s important to first talk about the risks of viruses and disease spreading from contact with equipment. For the purposes of this illustration, let’s look at one of the more obvious risks for contamination: microphones. Germs in our mouth are contained in microscopic droplets which we exhale along with air as we speak or sing. Expectantly, the expectorate inevitably gathers on surfaces, in this case the windscreen of a microphone. When virus or bacteria are contained in these droplets, if proper hygiene is not observed, there is a possibility of transference should the next person touch that windscreen with their lips. Moreover, if someone removes or otherwise touches that windscreen and then touches their face coming in contact with the mucous membranes, that person may contract an infection. The same can be said of transference from other equipment like cameras, sound boards, etc.
So, what steps can we take to insure the safety of our crew and talent?
One simple step is to avoid sharing equipment if possible. Having dedicated microphones, cameras and other such equipment will reduce the likelihood of transferring viruses.
A recommended practice for microphones is to use plastic bags over the tops of your windscreens to avoid having to clean the microphone after each use. While this can definitely save time and effort, extra precaution should be taken when removing the bag as droplets can fly off during removal subsequently contaminating objects nearby. It is recommended to wear a face shield or mask and goggles along with a double layer of plastic gloves as you carefully remove the bag. After handling the cover, remove the outer pair of gloves and dispose of them along with the bag.
Many windscreens are made of polyurethane foam. If you are thinking of cleaning your windscreen in a high-temperature wash, keep in mind that it poses a risk to the integrity of the windscreen and will likely damage any printed logos they may have. We recommend hand-washing at a lower temperature using a degreasing detergent. The detergent will likely be sufficient to remove the fatty coating on any virus to eliminate it.
When looking to disinfect devices such as battery packs, control boards and the like, the World Health Organization recommends various alcohol-based disinfectants. Isopropyl with a 70% alcohol concentration will do for most surfaces. It’s important to note that while these may be effective in preventing the spread of germs and viruses, some disinfectants may have different reactions to the surface of your device. We suggest testing your disinfectant in small areas before using it to wipe everything down. For glass surfaces such as lenses, a 99.9% concentration is recommended.
When using the disinfectant, be sure to wear gloves. Again, the double layer method works best. Remove your battery and prep the surface using an air-blower or duster. When applying the disinfectant be careful to avoid gaps or holes which moisture can get to the inner mechanisms and circuitry causing damage. It’s best to spray into a micro-fiber cloth and clean the surface thoroughly.
Lastly, if at all possible, quarantine your equipment for at least 72 hours between uses. This will allow enough time for most viruses to die. To make things easier to organize, you can also make two areas in your storage room: a drop-off zone and a sanitized zone. This way you can bulk sanitize your equipment and distinguish between what equipment can be used and what needs sanitizing. Keeping a checklist will help with communication among your team.
As always, please keep in the practice of washing your hands in compliance with standard hygiene recommendations both before and after handling equipment and make sure any personnel coming in contact with the equipment does the same. While we may be professionals in the AV industry, we do not claim any expertise in treating or eradicating all germs and illness so please take these recommendations as guidelines to better safeguard you and your team.
Thanks for reading and stay safe out there!