Hand Sanitizer Can Poison Your Children

Filed under: Babies, Day Care & Education, Development/Milestones: Babies, Health & Safety: Babies, Teens, Tweens, Big Kids, Preschoolers, Toddlers Preschoolers, Gadgets

I have something to admit to all of you. I am a germophobe. I'm one of those people -- you know, the ones who open doors using a paper towel on the doorknob and who flush toilets with their feet (closed-toe shoes, of course). I get the skeevies just thinking about what kinds of things we drag into our apartment on our feet after traipsing around the streets of New York City all day. Ew. So you'd think I was a big fan of all things anti-bacterial, including hand sanitizers.

Actually, I am not a fan of either. In fact, I would go so far as to say I eschew use of such things unless completely necessary. Case in point -- there is a bottle of hand sanitizer in my diaper bag for times when I need to change a diaper and can't get to soap and water.

Today a concerned reader submitted a point of interest to use regarding hand sanitizer being hazardous to children if ingested. Despite most stories proven false on the Snopes Web site, this story, found here, turned out to be true. Apparently a little girl named Halle Butler ingested enough of the hand sanitizer given to her at school to be come seriously ill. She was taken to the emergency room, and, thank goodness, recovered.

Hand sanitizer is mostly alcohol, so she and another little girl mentioned in another story who ate it after being given a dollop of it by a teacher got alcohol poisoning from ingesting the hand sanitizer.

Although both stories contain incorrect or dubious information such as Halle's blood alcohol level being at 85%, or that someone found "on the Internet" that ingesting three squirts of hand sanitizer can prove fatal to a toddler, the thought is still the same: Kids WILL put anything into their mouths. They will taste it and they will swallow it.

I remember when I was a kid my mom rushed me to the ER because she thought I'd drunk some bleach. I don't know why she thought that and although I do recall hitting the ER and being given a giant glass of milk (???) I don't recall feeling ill.

According to the story, the mother involved wanted hand sanitizer banned from pretty much everywhere. My response to that, if it's even true, is that if we're not going to ban things that we know for sure kill people, like peanuts and other food allergens, then how can we ban something like hand sanitizer?

I will tell you one thing, though. I am going to watch out even more for what my son puts into his mouth. I recently took a CPR and child safety class and you just wouldn't believe the things I was told could happen with everyday household items. The one that got me the most was children "testing" light sockets with their tongues. We all think kids will go poking things into light sockets, but what actually occurs is licking of the socket. Ew.

Children explore the world with their mouths as much as with their hands and eyes. If something smells yummy, as a hand sanitizer just might these days, then I can only imagine how long it is before a child tries to eat it.

I don't know if we need to go so far as to ban hand sanitizer, especially in schools where germs really do find their way around to every kid it seems. Perhaps just a note of caution to the teachers about not giving children too much or watching them rub it into their hands until it evaporates.

What's your take on this?

Thanks to Ann Adams for the tip!

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.