Some hand sanitizers can be harmful for young children

To sanitize or not to sanitize? That is the question.

A friend of mine, a teacher named Elizabeth, told me she doesn’t use any of the hand sanitizer dispensers that have been put up throughout the elementary school where she teaches. She says she sees too many “grubby little hands” pulling the levers that produce a small dab of sanitizer.

Her theory: No amount of sanitizer could offset all the germs that are coating those levers.

I thought of Elizabeth’s sanitizer dispenser aversion when I received an e-mail that had been forwarded quite a few times. This one came with a verification of sorts (I checked it out anyway and it appears to be legitimate), and a warning: Many hand sanitizers have a high alcohol content, which can be a bad mix with kids.

The e-mail shares the story of 4-year-old Halle who became lethargic and incoherent while at school. She was taken to a local ER where multiple tests showed nothing wrong. Finally, doctors were informed that she’d been licking hand sanitizer off her hands earlier in the school day.

A blood alcohol test revealed that Halle was still intoxicated, six full hours after arriving at the hospital.

Other similar events have already prompted some schools to discontinue hand sanitizer use or change to alcohol-free products. Use of fragrance-free products is also a good idea because a child might think a sweetly scented dab of hand sanitizer is a treat.

Please share this warning with friends, family, and school administrators: Hand sanitizer may seem benign, but it should be used sparingly with younger children.