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How hand sanitizer can put your childs life at risk
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Many teens across the United States are using hand sanitizer to get drunk, which puts their life and body at extreme risk. image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/calliope/263262064 - photo by Herb Scribner
Hand sanitizer is known for ridding people of germs and bacteria, in effect keeping people healthy.

But after swallowing two to three squirts, hand sanitizer can be deadly. In fact, it can make people, especially children and teens, dangerously drunk and give them alcohol poisoning, according to CNN.

And it seems many teens arent aware of this. Many U.S. teens will drink the sanitizer to get drunk, and others will sip it because they were dared to do so, according to CNN.

"A kid is not thinking this is bad for them," Dr. Gaylord Lopez, the Georgia Poison Centers director, told CNN. "A lot of the more attractive (hand sanitizers) are the ones that are scented. There are strawberry, grape, orange-flavored hand sanitizers that are very appealing to kids."

And it's not just teens who have been poisoned by sanitizer, but children, too. The Georgia Poison Center said the U.S. has seen about a 400 percent increase in calls for children 12 and younger swallowing hand sanitizer, according to CNN.

"Kids are getting into these products more frequently, and unfortunately, there's a percentage of them going to the emergency room, Lopez told CNN.

Most hand sanitizers include isopropyl alcohol, also known as rubbing alcohol, which is toxic and can damage ones nervous system, according to chemistry expert Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D.

This kind of alcohol, commonly found in hand sanitizers or nail-polish removers, can make one go blind and cause brain, liver and kidney damage, Helmenstine wrote.

However, the main risk of drinking hand sanitizer isn't from the toxic chemicals, but from the extremely high alcohol content, Helmenstine wrote. Most people who are hospitalized from drinking hand sanitizer get there because of alcohol poisoning (overdose). The alcohol content is so high that it is easy to drink a dangerous amount of alcohol before feeling the initial effects.

Most hand sanitizers include between 45 and 95 percent alcohol, where as beer and wine contain between 5 and 12 percent, CNN reported. Sipping too much sanitizer will often lead to alcohol poisoning, according to CNN.

Alcohol poisoning usually occurs when someone drinks a high amount of alcohol in a short amount of time, Medical News Today reported. It can cause extreme confusion, disorientation and even make people go into a coma, according to Medical News Today.

Hand sanitizer is far from the first tool that youngsters have used to try to get drunk, according to ABC News. Theyve also tried soaking gummy bears with alcohol and pouring alcohol into their eyes, ABC News reported.

But these tactics also put teens at risk for suffering from alcohol poisoning, blindness and body damage, according to KidsHealth.

To help teens avoid those risks, KidsHealth encourages parents to explain to their children that they dont have to drink just because of social and peer pressure, which is often the driving force behind a teens decision to drink alcohol.

It can be tempting to try alcohol. It's normal to be curious about new things, especially if it seems like everyone is doing it, KidsHealth reported. But everyone is not drinking alcohol. Don't believe it if someone says you're immature for not drinking. You're actually more mature (which means grown up) because you're being strong and smart.

Parents may also want to encourage their children to seek out a trusted friend for advice about not wanting to drink alcohol, KidsHealth reported.

Good friends won't stop being your friend just because you don't want to drink alcohol, according to KidsHealth. If you feel this kind of pressure, talk to someone you trust.

For more on child alcohol use:

Derailing kids: Alcohol and drugs send children as young as 10 off-course

Playing favorites can increase the chance a child will use drugs and alcohol

Teens who consume energy drinks more likely to use drugs, alcohol
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