Children getting drunk on hand sanitizer

Children getting drunk on hand sanitizer
Published: Sep. 16, 2015 at 6:10 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 31, 2015 at 6:40 PM EDT
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Dr. Ashley Webb (Source: Michael Williams, WAVE 3 News)
Dr. Ashley Webb (Source: Michael Williams, WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - You squirt on the hand sanitizer for getting rid of those nasty germs and bacteria. So many people use it to keep themselves healthy, but most parents don't realize how dangerous and even deadly hand sanitizer can be.

Just swallowing two to three squirts of hand sanitizer can be extremely dangerous. In fact, it can make people, especially children and teens, drunk and give them alcohol poisoning, according to the Kentucky Regional Poison Center at Kosair Children's Hospital.

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"It's the ethanol content that's in the hand sanitizers," said Dr. Ashley Webb from Kentucky Regional Poison Control Center at Kosair Children's Hospital. "So, if you think about something typically, like vodka has 40% alcohol, hand sanitizers typically have somewhere between 45% and 95%."

Dr. Webb says they get about 100 calls each year regarding hand sanitizer. The cases they receive regarding children swallowing hand sanitizer under six is usually accidental. Cases involving children ages 7 to 18 often involve abuse of the product.

Dr. Webb said you have older children in the home and seem to be going through an abnormal amount of hand sanitizer, that could be a red flag and you should start asking questions.

For children, exposure the hand sanitizers that are scented can be appealing. With scents like strawberry, grape, orange and pumpkin spice, children often mistake them for candy.

In November 2013, Jefferson County Public Schools banned hand sanitizer except for temporary or emergency use for a number of reasons including the fact that students were drinking it and some young children were licking their hands after using it with some ending up with alcohol poisoning.

If your child has swallowed hand sanitizer call poison control at 1 (800) 222-1222.

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