It’s no secret that a lot of people under the age of 21 experiment with alcohol, but more children are getting drunk on hand sanitizer, reports CNN. Since 2010, poison control center hotlines have seen nearly a four-fold increase in children under the age of 12 drinking hand sanitizer, according to analysis from the Georgia Poison Center.
"Kids are getting into these products more frequently, and unfortunately, there's a percentage of them going to the emergency room," said Dr. Gaylord Lopez of the Georgia Poison Center.
Hand sanitizer has an alcohol content between 45 and 95 percent, while beer and wine have between 5 and 12 percent. Although there’s a difference between the alcohol in hand sanitizer and the kind typically kept in a liquor cabinet, they both cause drunkenness. Hand sanitizer can also cause blindness, organ damage and death, Vice reported.
It’s also easy for young children to have access to hand sanitizer. According to 6-year-old Nhaijah Russell, the three or four squirts of hand sanitizer she drank at school tasted like strawberry. She was hospitalized with a blood alcohol level of 0.179, twice the legal driving limit for adults. She was slurring her words and fell, hitting her head in the process.
"That was very scary," Nhaijah's mother, Ortoria Scott, said. "It could have been very lethal for my child.”
Lopez recommends parents and others use nonalcoholic products or sanitizing wipes instead.