Little Kids Getting Drunk on Yummy Hand Sanitizers

Since 2010, poison control cases have shot up to more than 16K
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 15, 2015 7:29 AM CDT
Little Kids Getting Drunk on Yummy Hand Sanitizers
This photo taken July 29, 2009, shows would-be kindergartners given hand sanitizer before going to lunch in Brookhaven Elementary School, Rockville, Md.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Think you're good at locking up common household poisons from young kids? You may be forgetting one that looks surprisingly appealing to a small child: hand sanitizer. The number of cases of kids younger than 12 reported to poison control centers for ingesting hand sanitizer, which now comes in "fun" scents such as grape and strawberry, nearly quadrupled across the US in just a few years, according to an analysis by the Georgia Poison Center, jumping from 3,266 cases in 2010 to 16,117 in 2014, reports CNN. While beer and wine tend to contain about 5% and 12% alcohol, respectively, hand sanitizer can range from 45% to 95%, a concentration so high that just a few squirts can actually cause alcohol poisoning.

"A kid is not thinking this is bad for them," the poison center's director tells CNN. "There are strawberry-, grape-, orange-flavored hand sanitizers that are very appealing to kids." When Nhaijah Russell, who's 6, recently swallowed three or four squirts of strawberry-flavored hand sanitizer at her school, she began to slur her words, and by the time she reached the emergency room she could hardly walk. Nhaijah's blood-alcohol level was .179, twice the legal limit for an adult. "That was very scary," her mother said. "It could have been very lethal for my child." Some kids reportedly ingest hand sanitizer on purpose, to get drunk or as a dare, and NewsQuench adds that schools that don't switch to non-alcohol-based sanitizers should at least store them out of reach. (Some people have to "quit" hand sanitizer.)

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