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Potentially Poisonous - Hand Sanitizer

March 21, 2017

Posted in Safety

In honor of National Poison Prevention Week, Arkansas Children’s is calling attention to a dangerous and potentially poisonous item that most people use on a daily basis: hand sanitizer. Children are ingesting this gel, usually on accident and getting very sick. Kids are attracted to the brightness of the sanitizers that sometimes smell fruity or taste like candy. But the truth is, this modern way of hand-washing can be poisonous. Parents and caregivers of small children need to treat hand sanitizers like other harmful chemicals. Keep them high in cabinets or behind child-proof locks.

“It just comes down to due diligence on the caregiver and the parent's part,” Schaffner said. “Supervision and then putting it up and away when it's not in use.”

Hand Sanitizer Facts

  • From 2011 – 2014, 71,000 kids ages 12 and under ingested hand sanitizer.
  • 800 of those cases were older children intentionally ingesting - suspected for inebriation.
  • Hand sanitizer contains 60 – 95% ethanol or isopropyl alcohol.
  • Often times, hand sanitizers smell good and are often brightly colored, which attracts children.
  • Symptoms include vomiting and stomach pain.
  • Serious symptoms include seizures, organ damage and death.

Tips for Parents and Caregivers

  • If you think a child has ingested hand sanitizer, call the poison control hotline 800-222-1222.
  • If a child is already showing serious symptoms (i.e. seizures) – call 911 immediately.
  • Keep sanitizer out of reach of children!
  • Use soap and water whenever possible.

In this segment below from THV, Joe Schaffner outreach coordinator for the Injury Prevention Center at ACH puts hand sanitizer in the same category as liquid nicotine and the dishwasher detergent packs.

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