SWFL sees spike in hand sanitizer poisoning

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LEE COUNTY, Fla. – A shocking trend is making its way to Southwest Florida as the number of students poisoning themselves by drinking hand sanitizer increases.

Though hand sanitizer is meant to help keep people healthy by killing germs, new reports show it’s also making kids dangerously sick.

“Most hand sanitizers are 65-68 percent alcohol, that’s 130 proof alcohol,” said Timothy Dougherty, a toxicologist at Lee Memorial.

This year, Lee Memorial treated eight kids, ages 10 to 17, for hand sanitizer poisoning.

“That amount of alcohol in a child, that isn’t used to drinking that amount of alcohol, can lead to them stumbling and hurting themselves and breaking their neck,” said Dougherty.

Just a squirt or two of hand sanitizer is enough to have a child feeling buzzed. Hand sanitizer is frequently listed on back-to-school shopping lists. Charlotte County Schools use the sanitizer without alcohol.

“Fortunately for our schools, we’ve never used the type with alcohol because you can’t have alcohol on our campus, so all of our hand sanitizers have been non-alcoholic,” said Mike Riley, Charlotte County Schools spokesman.

Both Lee and Collier County School districts tell WINK News, their staff oversees the use of hand sanitizer in the classroom.

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