Tips for Using Hand Sanitizers

The widespread use of alcohol-gel hand sanitizers presents some risks, especially to small children.

McClatchy Tribune Newspapers

January 14, 2010


For parents, flu season is a season of worry: Will their kids catch the H1N1 flu virus? If they do, will there be complications? Are the vaccines safe?

Add a new worry: Whether the hand sanitizers parents so often carry to protect their little ones from bacteria might cause more harm than good.

In most cases, it's fine. In 2006, poison centers reported 11,914 exposures to ethanol-containing hand sanitizers, including 9,607 related to children younger than 6. None of the calls resulted in death. In 2005-2006, only two cases, both related to adults, resulted in a major medical effect.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers offers the following tips to help use hand sanitizers safely and prevent the spread of germs this flu season:

SOURCE: The American Association of Poison Control Centers supports the nation's 60 poison control centers in their efforts to prevent poisoning. Poison centers offer free and confidential services 24 hours a day, seven days a week.