The news of children getting drunk on hand sanitizer is enough to make parents take a good look at the hygiene products they use at home. But nothing could be worse than kids ending up in emergency rooms because of what is supposed to be something that will help disinfect, and help ensure health and safety at home. Unfortunately, more children are drinking alcohol-based hand sanitizers rather than using it for its intended purpose.
Six-year old Nhaijah Russell is one of those kids who had first-hand experience with the alcohol in hand sanitizers. It tasted like strawberry, which prompted her to drink three or four squirts. She ended in an emergency room sotted like an old drunk – unable to walk in a straight line or talk straight.
Because of this incident and many others, poison control centers all over the U.S. are warning parents of the increasing number of kids getting drunk on hand sanitizer. In fact, based on an analysis done by the Georgia Poison Center, the number of calls related to children ingesting hand sanitizers has increased by 400% since 2010.
According to the director of the University of Kansas Hospital poison control center, Tama Sawyer, “Kids are getting into these products more frequently and, unfortunately, there are a percentage of them going to the emergency room. It doesn’t take very much, less than a tablespoon, to make a child extremely drunk,”
So far this year, the KU Hospital has handled over 150 calls involving children under 12 years old who drunk or accidentally ingested hand sanitizer. Because of its alcohol content, it should be treated like any alcohol-based products that have the ability to intoxicate. What makes it more dangerous, however, is that it has 45% to 95% alcohol content, which is dangerously high compared to the 12% and 5% alcohol in wine and beer, respectively. So now you know why hand sanitizers can have a potent effect on children.
When Nhaijah Russell was tested for blood alcohol level, she had twice as much alcohol in her blood than an adult who is legally drunk, 0.179 to be exact. Because her intoxication caused her to fall and hit her head, her trip to the emergency room is twice as frightening for her parents. Not only is Nhaijah Russell treated for intoxication, but closely monitored for any signs of brain trauma as well.
To avoid a similar situation from happening to your own child, keep alcohol-based hand sanitizers out of reach of young children. It is believed that the product is enticing to kids because of its scent. You should also seriously question why your child is carrying a large of bottle of hand sanitizer in the purse or backpack. They might be drinking it as they are not yet legally allowed to buy beer at a liquor store.
What are the signs of alcohol poisoning or children getting drunk on hand sanitizer? Symptoms may include drowsiness, vomiting, confusion and, in severe cases, a child can stop breathing. Don’t let this happen to your child. Heed the warning of poison control centers and ensure that hand sanitizers are far from a child’s reach.