Is Your Toddler Getting Drunk on Hand Sanitizer?

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.

About mommachine

I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend and colleague. And trying to balance all of those roles at once can be utterly exhausting. Being the Type A control freak that I am, I try to run my life like a well-oiled machine. But sometimes the wheels get a bit squeaky (or just fly off completely, let's be honest). I have to slow down (yeah right, I know), give the different parts of my life a little tune-up and get back on the road.

5 Responses to Is Your Toddler Getting Drunk on Hand Sanitizer?

  1. ER says:

    We use Hy-5 Alcohol-Free Hand Sanitizer in our house. Really like it – foamy, easy on the hands, no smell, no alcohol and I don’t have to worry about it. Obviously, it’s still out of reach. :)

    • mommachine says:

      Erin, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of that hand sanitizer before. I’ll definitely have to check it out. Obviously, we still don’t want them to start chugging it, but I like that it’s alcohol free!

  2. misty says:

    My 2 year old drank about an ounce of it. Basically a shot. So i called poison control. They told me he didn’t need to go to the ER, and to just watch him closely it might make him slightly drunk, and give him sugary drinks because alcohol lowers your blood sugar levels. I was searching the internet while on the phone with poison control and came across about 50 sites promoting the “Hailey email” circa 2007. Know what happened to my son? Nothing. His eyes got a little glossy and he laid on the couch and watched Diego. He was not drunk or in any kind of distress. No complaints, no tummy ache, no headache, no sign of illness whatsoever. According to the person on the other end at poison control, it takes more than a few sips, and much more than just licking it off your palm to harm even a toddler. Apparently you have to ingest quite a large amount to produce ill effects. Like I said my son drank at least almost 1/4 of a 5 oz. bottle and was completely fine.

    • mommachine says:

      Oh my gosh! I’m so glad your son is alright and didn’t ingest more of the sanitizer! It’s good to know that, should our child swallow some before we can get it out of their hands, there’s no need to panic straight away.

  3. Pingback: Thousands of Children Are Accidentally Getting Drunk Because of Hand Disinfectants - Daily Outpost