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Hand Sanitizer Hazards


Hand sanitizer is a popular hygiene product that provides important health benefits in terms of preventing the spread of germs and harmful bacteria; however when storing or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, fire hazard potential should be considered and steps should be taken to minimize risks. When stored properly and used as directed, the likelihood of experiencing a fire associated with hand sanitizer is minimal. However, as with any flammable liquid, it is necessary to exercise caution. 

Most hand sanitizer products contain a high volume of alcohol, which is the reason for hand sanitizer fire hazard concerns. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are classified as Class I Flammable Liquid substances, which means they have a flash point of less than 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Hand sanitizer vapors can be flammable too. Do not store hand sanitizer near heat sources or open flames/sparks.  Use an ABC fire extinguisher on these types of fires. 

Follow the instructions on hand sanitizer to ensure it is disinfecting to its full capacity.  Start by cleaning off your hands as best as possible to remove dirt, etc.  Apply at least a dime sized amount of hand sanitizer and rub hands together covering all surfaces of hands and fingers.  Rub until hand sanitizer is absorbed. The high concentration of alcohol in hand sanitizers can cause skin sensitivity.  Use moisturizer often to help keep skin in good condition.  If a specific brand of hand sanitizer causes sensitivity issues, try a different brand or one made from different ingredients.  DO NOT use hand sanitizer made from methanol. FDA is warning consumers and health care providers that the agency has seen a sharp increase in hand sanitizer products that are labeled to contain ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol) but that have tested positive for methanol contamination. Methanol, or wood alcohol, is a substance that can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested and can be life-threatening when ingested.
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