Hand sanitizer is a ubiquitous item, appearing in medicine cabinets, on kitchen counters, at hospitals, in schools, and from commercial cleaning services. Although frequent use of hand sanitizer is an effective way to reduce disease, public health experts warn that this common household item may be dangerous. There has been a recent spike in the number of kids using alcohol-based hand sanitizer to get drunk, making it important to reconsider its widespread use.
How Could Something Like Hand Sanitizer Cause a Person to Become Intoxicated?
The majority of hand sanitizer products in the United States contain alcohol. Manufacturers include alcohol in hand sanitizers as a way to quickly kill germs. The alcohol chemical in hand sanitizer is the same compound as found in alcoholic beverages. However, hand sanitizers are much more potent.
Whereas the average beer contains around 5 percent alcohol and a bottle of wine is 12 percent alcohol, hand sanitizers pack a whopping 45 to 95 percent alcohol content. This is more than a typical bottle of vodka! The high alcohol content means that ingesting hand sanitizer can rapidly cause a person to become intoxicated. The danger in this is that alcohol at these levels can be extremely dangerous or even fatal.
People who have ingested hand sanitizer may experience seizures, vomiting, cardiac arrest, coma and even death. Those who survive may experience blindness, irreversible memory problems and permanent organ damage.
Understanding the Scope of the Problem
The use of hand sanitizer as a way to get drunk appears to have skyrocketed over the past few years. According to a study conducted by the Georgia Poison Center, the rate of children ingesting hand sanitizer has increased by 400 percent over the past five years. Across the United States, more than 16,000 cases of alcohol poisoning due to hand sanitizer consumption have been reported. The number of unreported cases is assumed to be even higher.
Unfortunately, social media has played a role in fueling the use of hand sanitizer to get drunk. The phenomenon was thought to start in New Zealand, but YouTube videos encouraging the practice may have caused it to spread to the United States. Some kids are even mixing hand sanitizer with Listerine – also a potent and dangerous source of alcohol – to get drunk.
Reduce Kids’ Risk by Choosing Non-Alcoholic Sanitizers
Hand sanitizer isn’t going away anytime soon. Sanitizing products remain an easy, effective method of chemical decontamination. The use of hand sanitizer reduces germs and prevents the spread of disease. However, schools, personal households and other locations where children are present should reconsider the use of alcohol-based sanitizing products.
EcoShield offers a non-alcoholic hand sanitizer that cannot be used to get drunk. Switching to EcoShield’s non-alcoholic product can save lives and reduce the risk of permanent injury in kids who experiment with hand sanitizer use.