Article I wrote for the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad – published in local news outlets in March 2017

Scotch Plains Rescue Squad Tip of the Month – The Dangers of Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizers

Parents know the importance of keeping their children’s hands as germ-free as possible, and besides hand washing, hand sanitizers are often the go-to choice when water is not available.  After all, these products are purported to kill many different types of microorganisms.  What could be safer?
Now comes some news that these products may also be dangerous for our children.  Just recently, the Centers for Disease Control announced that “over 70,000 children drank hand sanitizer between 2011 and 2014. While some older kids intentionally ingest the alcoholic liquid to get drunk, most cases are much more innocent. About 90% of the reported incidents occurred among children younger than five.”  Since some of these sanitizers are scented and come in colorful bottles, they are attractive to young children.  These bottles are also commonly found in schools, daycares, and other places where children are present and are usually easily accessible to them.
Some of these sanitizers contain up to 95% alcohol, and should only be used under adult supervision.  Most side effects, such as eye and mouth irritation, cough, abdominal pain and vomiting, are usually minor.  However, if enough sanitizer is ingested, it can raise a child’s blood alcohol level very high, resulting in seizures, respiratory issues, low blood sugar, and coma.  In this case, 911 should be called immediately, along with the National Poison Control Hotline at 1-800-222-1222. This hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year.

So talk to your children about the dangers of ingesting these sanitizers, and keep them out of reach of small children.  Some companies make non-alcohol based hand sanitizers which are non-toxic, and there are also sanitized wipes which may be more suitable for your family’s needs.
About the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad
The Scotch Plains Rescue Squad is a volunteer organization of Neighbors Helping Neighbors.  With over 90 volunteers, we answer calls not only in Scotch Plains but in surrounding towns as well when needed.  Besides answering calls, you will see our ambulances at many special events held in town, such as Scotch Plains Day, the Memorial Day Parade, high school football games, and the summer concerts on the Village Green.  We are also available to provide demonstrations for Boys and Girls Scout troops, clubs, and any other group that may be interested in what we do.  In addition, we lend out wheelchairs, crutches, canes and other assorted medical equipment free of charge.  Please reach out to us if there is something we can do for you.  (908) 322-2103 for non-emergencies or scotchplainsrescuesquad@gmail.com

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