COVID-19 Necessities For Every Seafarer

Though the COVID-19 pandemic has put most of the world on hold, the same cannot be said for the work of various frontliners in different fields. Healthcare workers, grocery store employees, and yes, even seafarers, are all part of this team staying in the frontlines in order to keep the world running while the rest stay at home. 

Seafarers and maritime professionals, in particular, are also quite susceptible to the virus. They are interacting with people from different ports, making it riskier for their health. Even with safety training in place, a pandemic this huge will definitely leave essential workers vulnerable.

With this, the following are necessities for every maritime worker to protect themselves from the disease.

Personal protective equipment

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is a collective term for various attires that are needed to protect oneself from infection. For the general public, facemasks are usually recommended in order to cover up droplets coming from sneezing and coughing. But for frontliners, health professionals in particular, they wear gloves, face shields, and gowns for complete protection. Seafarers can settle for facemasks and gloves, but they also need to disinfect regularly for the safety of their offshore and maritime operations, which brings us to the next item.

Alcohol and sanitizers

It’s recommended to wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds. But there may be times where you can’t access soap immediately. With this, it’s handy to have alcohol or sanitizers in your pocket while working. This is so you can sanitize and disinfect before, during, and after your duties conveniently. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the use of alcohol or sanitizers “with greater than 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol.”

Disinfectants

Aside from alcohol and sanitizers, you should also have your own disinfecting solutions and sprays. The virus can stay on surfaces for a certain amount of time, so it’s best to clean with these solutions regularly. Wipe frequently touched things such as tabletops, door handles, phones, laptops, light switches, and more. Make sure you wear gloves while disinfecting as well.

Thermometers

While your vessel should have thermal scanners for the whole crew, you can also bring a thermometer of your own. Use this to check if you have any fever as it’s one of the primary symptoms of COVID-19. This also goes without saying, but make sure the thermometer is for your own use only as the virus can spread through physical contact as well. If you see that you have a fever as well as other common symptoms, isolate immediately and monitor to see if they worsen.

The pandemic will not stop essential operations from happening as without them, millions of people staying at home will suffer. At the same time, seafarers cannot function without protection from COVID-19. By having the above items on hand in conjunction with proper monitoring and health protocols, the spread of the disease to maritime professionals can be avoided.

Mental Health Guide For Seafarers During The COVID-19 Pandemic

The current coronavirus outbreak isn’t just a matter of physical health anymore. It’s also become a mental health issue for everyone – the ones stuck in quarantine, those who know a COVID-19 patient personally, and of course the actual patients themselves. For seafarers, in particular, it may even add to the existing stress of their jobs as frontliners. 

Combined with how isolated seafarers are and the fact that cases at sea exist, it’s enough to cause a lot of anxiety. This often leads to coping methods – both healthy and unhealthy. Such a pandemic of this scale couldn’t be foreseen even with all the safety training offered by maritime training centers, so it’s natural to feel scared.

With this, it’s important to stay sane during such trying times. Here are ways to keep your mental health in check during the situation.

Practice standard precautionary measures

If you fear the possibility of catching the disease, you have to walk the talk and actually practice precautions as laid out by the Department of Health (DOH) and the World Health Organization (WHO). This includes washing hands frequently, practicing proper sneezing and coughing, avoiding face touches, and of course, social distancing. By doing this, you can significantly reduce the rate of infection, keeping your mind at ease.

Try not to read too much news

It’s a must to keep yourself informed of what’s happening during the pandemic to ensure you know what you need to do. However, reading too much information about it may cause greater anxiety and stress. Try to limit the news you consume and take moments to think about other things so your life doesn’t revolve around everything pandemic-related.

Keep yourself occupied with various activities

Counseling psychologist Kate Thompson says that one of the commendable characteristics of seafarers is that they know how to keep themselves occupied despite the limitations at sea. They usually do it through activities such as sports, exercise, and the like. With the current situation, these boredom beating activities are essential in keeping you entertained and your mind away from the situation. You can even look over your previous basic training notes to refresh your skills during your breaks.

Don’t lose your connection with people

Social distancing is a must in these times. This means no gatherings, no meet-ups, and the like. But it doesn’t mean you have to be socially isolated as well. Take the time to call your loved ones and connect with them. You can do video chats, messages, and more so it feels like you’re together with them even if you’re far apart.

Get help when needed

If you’re feeling the strain of the pandemic quite hard, it’s in your best interest to consult a specialist and get help. There are organizations such as the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) that are dedicated to ensuring the welfare of every maritime professional. Make use of their resources in order to reduce your worries about the future amid the pandemic.

The COVID-19 situation is not something that will be dying down anytime soon. At most, it will take several months to a year before it’s resolved. While you cannot control how it will go, you can control how you respond to the anxiousness it will make you feel. Follow the tips above in order for you to feel less fearful and uneasy.