Have you heard about this? Apparently, the latest way teenagers have found to get high is by drinking hand sanitizer. I thought it was weird when the whipped cream was sequestered in the back room of the grocery store, available only upon request and after producing a valid ID, but this? This is not only stupid, it’s just gross. But it appears that hand sanitizer can be distilled into pure 120-proof alcohol and ingested for a buzz.
I watched a piece about this new danger on the Today Show with mild interest and bewilderment; that is, until they threw up the Poison Control Center’s 2010 stats for hand sanitizer poisoning. Out of the 3,767 cases of hand sanitizer poisoning that year, 411 were teenaged and older. The other 2,932 were children aged 5 and younger who accidentally ingested the poison.
Well, that had my attention. As the parents of a toddler, we go through hand sanitizer about as fast as we do milk. Our daughter has seen us use it so much that she will grab the little bottle and mimic putting it on her hands and rubbing them together. We have hand sanitizer all over our house and even attached to the strap of our diaper bag—easily accessible to little hands. And this isn’t the generic Purell with no real smell. We usually have the little bottles from Bath & Body Works that smell like delicious apple pie or warm vanilla cookies. Kids are bad enough about putting stuff in their mouths, and here we are, unwittingly tempting our child with sweet-smelling poison. Yikes.
Our house is baby proofed to the hilt, but the thought of those tiny bottles being a threat never even crossed our minds; that changed about 10 minutes after that segment of the show was over. I went around the house and put away every bit of hand sanitizer I found, somewhere little hands couldn’t reach.
Take a moment to look around your house and make sure you don’t have any of these seemingly innocent bottles within your child’s reach. We are so used to seeing them everywhere and using them that, at least in our house, they can be easily overlooked.