Schools, gyms, hospitals, locker rooms, day care facilities, firehouses, the average home.
Just a few of the places superbugs like MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylycocous aureus) has been found lurking in significant quantities. What's the big deal with MRSA? Perhaps you've heard of something called a STAPH infection. Well, MRSA is an antibiotic-resistant STAPH bug, which can lead to an antibiotic-resistant STAPH infection. Many of these are life-threatening.
Besides MRSA there are many other superbugs. Take the contagious, antibiotic-resistant CRE for example. A recent study published in the medical journal, Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, revealed that cases of CRE increased five-fold in community hospitals from 2008 to 2012 in the Southeastern U.S. And often times, hospitals aren't required to report infection-related deaths. However, the last CDC Study revealed that 18,000 people in the US were killed by infections in 2005. Today, that number is probably much higher.
Superbugs truly are a silent killer. Not just because they're on a microscopic scale and thus it's easy to pick up an infection, but because a large number of people in the world don't know they exist. If you asked a random person on the street, they probably have never heard of it. But they probably saw what Iggy Azalea last tweeted.
And that is part of the problem. The less that people know about it, the less pressure there is on leading figures to lay down an action plan to address it. It also means that people aren't taking steps to protect themselves against this unknown danger. Washing hands can sure lower your risk, but hand soap isn't going to do much against antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
However, there are proven killers of these superbugs and other serious viruses. The same journal that published the report mentioned above, Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, confirmed in a separate study that ozone is an effective killer of MRSA, as well as a host of other fungi, viruses, and bacterium. In hotels, schools, daycares, and hospitals, ozone can be used to disinfect entire rooms. Athletes can use ozone to disinfect their hockey, football, lacrosse, and motocross gear. And firefighters can disinfect their bunker gear, or police can disinfect Kevlar vests and tactical suits.
Excuses can be a beautiful thing. When used in the right way, they can get us out of all sorts of trouble, like doing our chores, or getting us out of jury duty. And they are a real wingman when it comes to the sweet, sweet practice of procrastination.
"I would love to feed the dog... but this Ferrari isn't gonna drive itself."
However, sometimes we take advantage of our friend, The Excuse, and we use him in vile ways. Like for instance, if you play hockey, you know that your gear can really start to reak after just a few games. And over the course of a few years --maybe even a couple decades of no treatment -- it transitions to smelling like the shorts of Andre the Giant after he's gone for a jog through the Mojave desert.
Perhaps there are a few excuses you've used to defend your stance of preserving the unholy state of your hockey gear. I'm here to tell you your excuses are bad. Below are just a few...
4. It's Part Of the Game
This is probably the one excuse that is used most often. At first it's annoying to hear, but then you think about it and you can see where the person is coming from. For decades, Eau de Chat Urine has been the signature scent of hockey gear.
"You have my bladder to thank for your success."
You just got used to smelling it over and over, every time you walked into a dressing room. But that's only because there hasn't been a proper way to clean gear. Now the technology and methods exist to properly disinfect your gear, so there really is no reason to say it's part of the game.
That's like saying the smell of mold and mildew in your house is just part of living in a house. No, it's not. If you walked into your house and recieved a huge dose of moldy breeze to the nostrils, you would be speed-dialing the army to come over PRONTO to wipe it out before you'd even hit the floor. It's the result of water damage in your house, and you know it needs to be killed, otherwise it can cause severe damage to your health. Playing with gear that is moldy and full of bacteria is no different! It's dangerous to your health, and needs to be treated.
"Oh well," you say, "I'll just tough it out. Because..."
3. It's Part Of Being a Man
"It's called being a man! It's a manly scent!" This is one excuse that we've heard before and perhaps you've used it to. This is what you look like when you say that:
"It's a manly scent! I'm a man!"
What our friend Bozo up there is saying is that only men sweat and stink when they exert themselves. Isn't that a little silly, considering just how many women hockey players there are? I have a lot of women friends who play hockey, and they can tell you first hand, their dressing rooms smell just as nasty as the men's. Saying it's a man's smell is just as silly as saying it's a man's game.
She's laughing at you.
We don't live in the early 20th century anymore. Hockey is a sport played by men and women, so to call the smell manly is just untrue. And this is coming from me, a fellow man, just like Bozo. So fine, it's a smell shared by the citizens of Mars and Venus. But come on, the smell is harmless... right?
2. It's Harmless... Right?
Let's have an experiment: Why don't you go ask your wife to sniff your hockey gear, and then tell her to her face it's harmless.
Now enjoy your new accommodations.
As I'm sure your wife can attest to from her experience of every time she steps into the garage, your gear smells like a dead skunk stuffed with rotten garlic and denial. And there's a simple reason for that: it's filled with mold, mildew, and bacteria. Imagine going years wearing the same clothes over and over, and never washing them once. "Eww!" you say. "Don't say gross things like that." Well wearing your hockey gear for years on end without treating it is like doing the exact same thing. Over time, your hockey gear has become a luxury condominium for all kinds of microscopic nasties, including antibiotic-resistant superbugs. Like these guys:
Those microscopic death-grapes pictured above are known as MRSA, which stands for Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus. These fuzzy guys are resistant to many antibiotics and have all sorts of fun symptoms, such as spider bite-like bumps that can lead to deep pus-filled boils; toxic shock syndrome, which includes confusion, stupor, falling into a coma, and massive organ failure; and even necrotizing pneumonia. In other words, it eats your flesh.
"Om nom nom."
On top of that, MRSA can spread so rapidly, that within a few days the infected host can be killed. Or if the person is lucky, they can stop the infection -- by amputating the infected limb. And these kinds of infections aren't rare among athletes. In recent years, top athletes in the NHL such as Joe Thornton and Chris Higgins were diagnosed with MRSA infections. The NFL has faced several lawsuits from players who were infected with MRSA as well. They were fortunate enough to be able to treat these strains of MRSA, but other superbugs won't be as friendly.
"But it's ok," you say. "I do treat my gear." How?
1. I Air It Out and Spray It
Don't get me wrong, airing out your equipment is a good thing to do. It dries the gear quicker, and slows the growth of bacteria. But the bacteria will still grow. And although fragrance spray may mask the odor for a short time, it doesn't remove what's causing odor. So maybe you won't smell it as much, but the source is still there and still just as dangerous. It's kind of like covering your eyes when something bad is happening. Maybe you can't see it, but you're still definitely in danger.
"Well what if I use an antibacterial spray, smart alec?" Using an antibacterial spray will help slow bacterial growth, true. And it will even kill bacteria on the surface of your gear, so it's not a bad thing to use. However, most of the bacteria grows deep inside the gear, places where the antibacterial spray cannot reach. "Well then, how? HOW do we kill it?"
The best way to treat your gear is through an ozone treatment. Ozone is all-natural, 3,000 times more effective than bleach, and it kills MRSA and other antibiotic-resistant superbugs, bacterium that antibiotics can't kill.
"Gee, thanks for explaining what 'antibiotic-resistant' means, James. I get it now."
And the Fresh Gear system blasts ozone at high velocity so it gets through the dense padding of your gear, and into hard to reach places like the toes of skates or the fingertips of gloves. It only takes 30 minutes, and it costs less than your average cell phone bill too. So treat your gear! Do it for your own sake, your family's sake, and the sake of everyone who has to share a dressing room with you.
"Teenage Boy Playing With Joypad" courtesy of imagerymajestic // Freedigitalphotos.net
"Sofa in Living Room" courtesy of nuchylee // Freedigitalphotos.net
"Professional Showing Thumbs Up" courtesy of imagerymajestic // Freedigitalphotos.net
I've been asked many times over the 8 years we've been cleaning sports gear, "How often should I clean my hockey gear?"
"Is it contaminated with bacteria again when I sweat into it?" Also, "How bad is it and how risky is it to wear again?"
Each time we sweat into our clothing or protective sports gear we introduce moisture and bacteria. Perspiration is how the body cools itself and also one of the ways the body expels toxins.
How much bacteria is generated after each use?
Significant bacteria is introduced to our clothing or sports gear each time we sweat. However, what we do with the gear after we sweat into it can be an even greater contributor to bacteria buildup.
What storage conditions contribute to rapid bacteria cultivation?
Bacteria thrives in warm, wet and dark conditions like hockey bags and locker rooms. Washing the pads in your washing machine or with a “pressure washer”, adds more moisture to the gear and toxic black mold may result.
How can you reduce the risks of skin infections and MRSA?
1) CLEAN YOUR HOCKEY EQUIPMENT REGULARLY: NATA (National Athletic Trainers Association) official direction is to clean athletic clothing after each use and clean protective sports gear REGULARLY. If you clean your underwear, socks and t-shirt after every use, how long should you wait to clean your gear?
We recommend sanitizing your sports gear a minimum of every 6 weeks or 15-20 uses. Ask about the Ultimate Clean Package at your local Fresh Gear outlet. If available, it provides UNLIMITED cleaning for 1 full year at one low price.
If this is not practical for you, it is beneficial to apply a good alcohol based antibacterial spray, like Fresh Shield, after each time you wear your sports gear, to slow the regrowth of bacteria until the next Fresh Gear sanitizing treatment.
Fresh Shield is available from your local Fresh Gear operator or you can order online.
2) DRY YOUR SPORTS GEAR in a cool, dry and well ventilated location after each use. Get it out of the equipment bag!
That is easily the worst place for your gear.
The Fresh Gear process kills up to 99.99% of bacteria in your hockey equipment, football pads and lacrosse gear.
Protect your health and extend the life of your equipment.
Include Fresh Gear in your good hygiene routine.
Basketballs, volleyballs can be magnets for bacteria, study finds
In order to enable the sanitizing of hard surface items like balls, toys and gym equipment, each RSS and Cyclone have steel shelves included with each purchase. For Storm customers, they will be a $300 option. The shelves are quickly and easily removable to enable the perforated piping to be re-installed for protective sports gear and other garments.
by James Antinozzi
James Antinozzi has been in the ozone sanitizing business since 2005, when Ozone Nation Inc. was founded and launched it's flagship product, Fresh Gear.