The chain e-mails have been making the rounds for months. Turns out, it’s true. Children can get drunk, or worse, off of hand sanitizer.
Manufacturers and many doctors say that hand sanitizer is safe as long as children rub it on their hands and never put it in their mouths.
Unfortunately, Lacy and Matt Butler were unaware of the dangers of these alcohol-based hand sanitizers prior to a teacher using a small amount of on the hands of their 4-year-old daughter, Holly.
According to the parents, Holly licked the hand sanitizer rather than rubbing it in.
“I'll never forget the look in her eyes when she looked at me beause it was ‘uh-uh,’” said Matt Butler of his daughter's behavior after arriving home from school. “I walked in and she's kind of laying up against the wall. Her eyes are just doing whatever they want, you know, not really focused on anything and she just gets up or she tries to get up and she can’t walk.”
Most hand sanitizer is 62 percent alcohol – more than most vodka, which averages about 40 percent alcohol. The high concentration, say the manufacturers, is needed to kill germs.
Several children across the country have had the same reaction as Holly Butler after eating or licking hand sanitizer. While some companies have added a bitter additive to stop children from eating it, others have added fruit-flavored smells to theirs, which some worry may entice children to drink it.
While experts point out that hand sanitizer is helpful in reducing the spread of germs and reducing the risk for colds, they also warn that parents should monitor the use of these products when using them on small children.