Sep 15, 2015 1:00 AM

Author: Libby Mitchell

Are you aware of the concerns about hand sanitizer?

Any parent knows that hand sanitizer can be a lifesaver when it comes to cleaning little hands, and eliminating germs on the go. However, they may not realize that it can pose a health threat to the very people they are trying to protect.

Recently a six year old Georgia girl was rushed to the hospital after ingesting two to three pumps of hand sanitizer that left her seriously intoxicated. She wasn’t trying to get drunk; she just thought the strawberry scented sanitizer smelled good. Sherrie Pace of the Utah Poison Control Center says that is usually the case when hand sanitizer is ingested. “Some teens may be trying to get drunk, but the vast majority of hand sanitizer poison exposures in Utah are in kids under age 6 and are unintentional,” she says.

Hand sanitizer contains a high level of alcohol in order to kill germs—between 45 and 70 percent in most brands. In comparison, a typical alcoholic beverage contains between five and 12 percent alcohol.

As with other potential hazards, awareness is key. “Parents should be aware of the potential abuse of hand sanitizer,” says Pace. “If they buy a new bottle and it is gone very quickly, or comes up missing, it may be a red flag that someone is abusing the product.”

Pace also says that hand sanitizer should be treated as any other poison. “Keep it up and out of reach of small children.”

If a child does ingest hand sanitizer, the poison control center can help. “Call 1-800-222-1222, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and a specialist in poison information will be available to help you,” Pace says. 

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