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Keeping Children Safe From Hand Sanitizers – A Few Tips

Since the spread of the Coronavirus, two things have become supremely essential: a face mask and a hand sanitizer. With precautions being the only way to fight the infection, people over the past few months have been stockpiling a generous amount of alcohol-based hand sanitizers, which has led to an increase in their demand.


The New York Times | Since the spread of COVID-19, the demand for hand sanitizers has increased manifold

While sanitizers’ sale has increased, quite shockingly, the cases of accidental sanitizer ingestion by children have also gone up. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ 2020 records, more than 20,000 cases of children under six years of age consuming sanitizers were reported, 40% more than 2019’s data.

As per Justin Arnold, the medical director of Florida Poison Information Center, children who lightly lick or taste sanitizer can show mild or no symptoms. However, kids who consume large amounts can suffer from vomiting, cough, and mouth irritation.

Let’s take a look at the effects of consuming sanitizer and how to keep it away from children.

Consequences of children ingesting hand sanitizer

The medical director of the New Jersey Poison Center, Dr. Diane Calello, says that if children consume large amounts of alcohol-based sanitizers, they can get severely drunk. Hand sanitizers contain 60% to 95% alcohol, a concentration stronger than that in beer, wine, and hard liquors.


iStock | If children consume large amounts of alcohol-based sanitizers, they can get severely drunk

If a child weighing 20 pounds swallows just a tablespoon or two of hand sanitizer, she would immediately become intoxicated. A higher dose can make her fall asleep and cause breathing problems similar to what adults suffer after heavy intoxication.

Moreover, sanitizer consumption can lead to a blood sugar level drop similar to that in alcohol consumption, and it’s more severe in children compared to adults. Consuming sanitizers formulated with isopropyl alcohol can result in throat and stomach irritation too.

Read – How to choose the correct hand sanitizer?

How to avoid accidental sanitizer ingestion?

The best way to keep hand sanitizers away from children is to keep them out of their sight. Dr. William Eggleston, a toxicologist at the Upstate New York Poison Center in Syracuse, suggests that parents treat sanitizers like medicines and prevent children from directly accessing them.

Even though washing hands is the best way to stay germ-free, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention advises using hand sanitizers. It recommends using sanitizers that have at least 60% alcohol content, especially when soap and water aren’t available. Dr. Arnold requests parents of children under 6 to supervise their kids while using sanitizer.

Read – How to educate kids about washing hands correctly?


Pinterest | Doctors request parents of children under 6 to supervise their kids while using sanitizer

How to cope with accidental ingestion?

If your child has mistakenly consumed hand sanitizer, don’t force her to vomit. Get quick, professional guidance by calling poison control at 1-800-222-1222. In case the kid has fallen unconscious, is acting abnormally, fainting, or suffering from shortness of breath, call 911 immediately.

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