Poison control centers report a growing number of cases involving children becoming ill from drinking liquid hand sanitizer, which often contains dangerously high levels of alcohol.
CNN recently reported that since 2010, there has been nearly a 400% increase in calls about children under 12 consuming hand sanitizer and becoming dangerously intoxicated.
“Kids are getting into these products more frequently, and unfortunately, there’s a percentage of them going to the emergency room,” said Dr. Gaylord Lopez, director of the Georgia Poison Center.
Lopez said 3,266 hand sanitizer cases involving young kids were reported to poison control centers in 2010. Last year, that number reached 16,117.
Liquid hand sanitizer is, it turns out, mostly alcohol, with concentrations reaching 95% in some brands, compared to 5% in beer and 12% in wine.
At such high concentrations, a few squirts can make a child ill and can even lead to alcohol poisoning, which can be fatal.
Parents should keep hand sanitizer and similar products away from children. Better yet, health officials say, use soap and water or sanitizing wipes to clean sticky fingers.