3-year-old becomes drunk after drinking hand sanitizer

A 3-year-old toddler was recently diagnosed with alcohol poisoning and was said to be "drunk" after ingesting a quarter cup of hand sanitizer. Read to know what happened.

hand sanitizer

Did you know these can make your kid drunk?

In September 2014, a 3-year-old was diagnosed with alcohol poisoning after ingesting hand sanitizer. The case sent chills across New Zealand as thousands of parents were reminded of the importance of not leaving their children alone with the substance.

The toddler and her sibling were playing with a 375 ml bottle of 70% ethanol hand sanitizer when she reportedly drank almost a quarter cup. The toddler then became dizzy, lethargic, and incoherent and was rushed to the local hospital’s ICU where she was diagnosed with acute ethanol toxicity – which is almost the same diagnosis for people pulled over for drunk driving.

According to the Medical Journal of Australia, the three-year-old exhibited a blood alcohol level of 260 mg/dL, which is significantly higher than the 50 mg/dL threshold for intoxication in New Zealand. She also suffered from associated hypotension and elevated sodium and chlorine levels in her blood.

After a few hours of being given fluids and medicine in the hospital, the toddler’s condition began to improve and she was later discharged 24 hours after the incident.

Click Continue Reading to know why your kids should never drink hand sanitizer

hand sanitizer

Depending on your child’s weight, a casual lick can be poisonous

All it takes is one lick

According to the Upstate New York Poison Center, any child who ingests more than a casual lick of hand sanitizer is at risk for alcohol poisoning. This is because the main active ingredient in these products is usually ethanol. They may also contain water, fragrance, and glycerin.

Basically, hand sanitizers are for used after soap and water washing to further disinfect your hands. To completely kill germs and bacteria, hand sanitizer must have at least 60mg/dL of alcohol in it, which is higher than the alcohol content of even the hardest liquors in the market.

Your usual hand sanitizer pump lets out about 2.5 mL of liquid.  If one pump of a 62% ethanol-containing hand sanitizer was ingested by a two-year-old typically weighing 15 kg, he or she would get a blood alcohol level of 17.3 mg/dL, much lower than the 80mg/dL level that drunk drivers have.

It would essentially take about 10-20 pumps of hand cleaner or around 4-5 teaspoons of the gel or liquid to get a four-year-old child poisoned. But for even smaller children, any small amount could be fatal.

Older siblings may find it fun to feed the sweet-smelling gel to babies, especially when no one is looking which is why it is important to remind children that hand sanitizers should never be drunk.

What do you do when your child has ingested hand sanitizer? 

hand sanitizer

Any chemical should be used under parental supervision

What to do if your child ingests hand sanitizer

The high alcohol in hand sanitizers can give children a burning feeling in their mouths, so they aren’t likely to take another swig of the stuff. But never underestimate what a child can put in his or her mouth.

You can never be sure that your child will stop after a lick or a taste of your hand sanitizer at home. Here’s what you should do when you think they’ve ingested some:

  • Place the hand sanitizer away from their reach.
  • Feed them something to eat or have them drink water in small sips.
  • Call the Poison Center in the Philippines at 117, 02-5241078, 02-5248150
  • Never induce vomiting.
  • Rush your child to the hospital and bring the bottle of hand sanitizer they ingested to show to the doctors.
  • If you have your doctor’s phone number on hand, you can contact them at any time for emergencies.

How do you prevent your kids from drinking hand sanitizer? 

hand sanitizer

Always supervise your child when he’s playing

Hand sanitizers are similar to household chemicals

The benefits of using hand sanitizer in conjunction with regular hand washing cannot be denied. According to studies, using this substance after washing hands does kill germs, bacteria, and some viruses. But the hazards remain. Here are some ways to prevent your child from drinking hand sanitizers:

  • Keep large containers out of reach of children.
  • Always supervise your child when washing hands or using hand cleaner or hand soap.
  • If possible, only stock small bottles of hand sanitizer as children are less likely to ingest a large amount when there is little available.
  • Teach your child that hand sanitizer is for the hands and never for the mouth.

Keep in mind that for a hand sanitizer to thoroughly rid your hands of remaining germs and bacteria, the Center for Disease Control in the U.S. recommends that you leave the stuff on and refrain from touching dirty surfaces for at least a minute.

What do you think moms? Would your child drink your hand sanitizer? Tell us about any close calls in the comments!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dana Santos

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