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Keep hand sanitizers out of children’s reach :

May 20, 2020

Editor's note:For the latest news on coronavirus disease 2019, visit  https://www.aappublications.org/news/2020/01/28/coronavirus.

Washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is the best way for children to remove germs. If soap and water are not available, they can use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

More people are buying hand sanitizer during the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Poison Data System also is getting more reports of unintentional exposures in children. In March, there were 79% more calls related to hand sanitizer than the year before. Many calls were about children ages 5 years and younger.

Swallowing just a tiny amount of hand sanitizer can cause alcohol poisoning in children.

The American Academy of Pediatrics urges parents to keep hand sanitizers out of children’s reach. Caregivers also should supervise children ages 5 and younger when they use hand sanitizer.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is letting companies that do not normally produce hand sanitizer make and sell it during the COVID-19 pandemic. When buying hand sanitizer, parents should make sure it has a label that lists the ingredients, warnings and precautions.

All hand sanitizers must be made so they taste bitter. This process is called “denaturing” and helps prevent children from eating the product. The FDA has been alerted that some people have tried drinking hand sanitizers that have not been denatured.

Health experts recommend using hand sanitizer that is 60% to 95% alcohol to kill the virus that causes COVID-19. Drinking alcohol has 5% to 40% alcohol per serving.

Even a small amount of alcohol can poison children, depending on their weight and age. Alcohol poisoning in children can cause low blood sugar, seizures, coma and death.

Call 911 right away if you think your child has swallowed hand sanitizer or if your child has collapsed, is having a seizure, is having a hard time breathing or you can’t wake him or her up.

For non-life-threatening situations, call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 or visit https://triage.webpoisoncontrol.org/#/exclusions.

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