Keep hand sanitizer out of reach of very young children

19 Mar 2020 | 09:53

    Hand sanitizing gels are the newest products marketed to kill germs, but accidental ingestion of a relatively small amount by children poses a serious risk. A child ingesting more than a taste of this product could be at risk of alcohol poisoning. An ounce or two could be fatal. Hand sanitzers should be kept out of reach of young children.

    For an emergency, call 1-800-222-1222. In light of so many children having school at home recently, the theme of 2020 National Poison Week is “Keep Your Family Safe” from a medication mishap.

    “It only takes a few seconds to program the poison control (and coronavirus) phone number into your phone, 1-800-222-1222, and it could save a life,” said Michele Caliva, administrative director of the Upstate New York Poison Center. “In 2019, 35% of our calls were for an unintentional poisoning in children. Keep your medications up and out of reach of children or in a locked box.”

    Safety Tips:

    Store all medicines, over-the-counter products and vitamins in their original packaging and in locked cabinets or boxes. They should be out of sight and out of reach of children

    Close medicine caps tightly after use and use child-resistant caps when possible

    Be alert to visitors’ medications. Always put purses, bags and coats out of reach of children

    Remember to ask family and friends living in homes where a child visits to store medications safely

    Never leave a medication out in preparation for the next dose

    Program the phone number for the Poison Center into your cell phones: 1-800-222-1222 and check out

    Also, during the COVID-19 outbreak, we want to remind everyone to keep all cleaning products out of reach of children. No cleaning product, including bleach, should ever be ingested into the body. Exposure to cleaning products is the second leading cause of calls to poison centers nationwide.

    As far as keeping your hands clean, the CDC recommends washing your hands with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing in order to reduce the risk of infection. Using hot soap and water is the best way to kill many germs and eliminate most chemicals, but if soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

    While a child who tastes a tiny amount of hand sanitizer from his or her hands is unlikely to become sick, a child ingesting any more than a taste could be at risk for alcohol poisoning.

    The alcohol content in hand sanitizer ranges from 40% to 95%. Most hand sanitizers contain more than 60% ethyl alcohol, a stronger alcohol concentration than most hard liquors. By comparison, wine and beer contain about 10-15% and 5-10% alcohol, respectively. Even a small amount of alcohol can cause alcohol poisoning in children causing confusion, vomiting and drowsiness. In severe cases, respiratory arrest and even death can occur.

    Poison control centers managed 3,260 exposure cases about hand sanitizer in children 12 years & younger as of the end of February.