Thursday, June 21, 2007
Hand sanitizer risks
The first time I read about the dangers of hand sanitizer, I thought it was a joke. There was a widely circulating story about a child eating or drinking hand sanitizer and becoming deathly ill. C'mon, you're thinking. That is an Internet hoax.
Well, not so fast. While there hasn't been a single documented case of a child dying from it, there have been some pretty frightening stories. Parents, like myself, should at a minimum be aware of what is in hand sanitizer. Flip that bottle over and you are likely to see that it's 62 percent ethyl alcohol. That is also known as ethanol. It is also the same stuff in wine, beer and Jack Daniels. That's right: A little 2-ounce bottle = 4 shots of vodka.
The New England Journal of Medicine first warned of cases of people ingesting hand sanitizer a few months ago. Now according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, the country's 61 poison centers are getting more calls about it. There were nearly 12,000 cases last year, up from 2005. Already, this year, there have been about 6,600 cases.
As a father of a 2-year-old and a 4-month-old, I know just about everything goes from hand to mouth. And, hand sanitizer can smell especially appetizing! If you look at a 1-year old child weighing about 22 pounds, a squirt of sanitizer is like your child drinking a sip of a mixed drink. So, is it time we start locking up the hand sanitizer and treating it as a poison? How do you keep your kids safe from these seemingly harmless substances?
If you have any questions, you can call the American Association of Poison Control Centers Poison Help Line 1-800-222-1222. You'll be connected to your local poison control center.
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