(Yup, you read that right). Twiddledum, my son, who’s tall for his age, decided to reach up to our Dining table and grab a purse-sized bottle of Hand Sanitizer from it. He then ran off naughtily. Since I was tired, I let him. Big mistake, as this is the kid who puts everything in his mouth (he’s the reason our cockroach infestation ended, one roach warned the others we had a carnivore living with us and they all wisely stayed away). When he came back, the bottle of Hand Sanitizer was open and he was smiling sheepishly. Also, his breath smelled of Hand Sanitizer.
How does Hand Sanitizer work?
Hand Sanitizer got popular in Nigeria when we had the Ebola outbreak. Nna Broses used Hand Sanitizer to buy jeeps, that’s how much they sold. They’re pretty good at killing germs and bacteria. Maybe just a bit too effective: you need good bacteria on your skin.
Hand Sanitizers are popular in hospitals because they have a lot of infectious bacteria flying around. You’ll see Doctors squirt some in the hands before examining a patient.
But here’s the thing: every medical person we spoke to, tend to prefer plain soap and water for disinfecting your hands if you’re not in a hospital. Still, if you’re out-and-about with a newborn baby, a small bottle of Hand Sanitizer is more convenient to lug. Especially as we don’t have running water everywhere.
Why so dangerous, then
A bottle of white wine can have 12% vol alcohol in it and go higher. Spirits like Vodka can have upto 40% vol alcohol. Ogogoro will knock you off your feet at 30-60% vol alcohol.
Hand Sanitizers have 60% vol alcohol in them.
So your child drinking it, can get intoxicated. Fast. And since children REALLY can’t handle their liquor, Alcohol Poisoning can happen quickly.
Hand Sanitizers are very colourful and smell nice, attractive to small kids. So they’re tempted to taste it. But the good thing is that it tastes like absolute crap. Most children will take a sip and hate it, like my son.
But some kids are adventurous and will guzzle from that bottle. Now, Alcohol and soap are stomach irritants (which is good), so most kids who drink a fair quantity of Hand Sanitizer will thankfully vomit most of it immediately. However, DO NOT TRY TO MAKE YOUR CHILD VOMIT.
Call a Doctor or Hospital ASAP
If your child doesn’t vomit, you need to contact your hospital. The Doctor will ask you how much she drank. If it was from those small squeeze bottles, it’s usually not that much. But every child is different, some children can take a very small quantity and suffer extreme alcohol poisoning effects like Low Blood Sugar, seizures, wooziness, breathing issues and even a coma.
If your toddler is acting normal, maybe he took just a lick, the Doctor will advise you to give him something to eat. I’ll advise you to also give him Juice to drink. Sugary stuff and food will combat the low blood sugar and help his stomach against the alcohol.
If your child is acting woozy, or has gone quiet or is suddenly sleepy, you should take her, along with whatever is remaining of the hand sanitiser, straight to the hospital.
Do not give any other thing (put down that cup of palm oil!) Because you don’t want to combine something out of the ordinary with that much alcohol.
Did Twiddledum make it?
My son, Twiddledum, only took a lick from the bottle cap and found it tasted nasty. Which is why he came back to me to report himself. Also, he comes from a long and distinguished line of Sapele-water guzzlers, his constitution is like that of a ram. So I gave him Juice and he continued his meal. The doctors had me monitor him, but he was thankfully okay.
But more importantly, we got rid of the hand sanitizer. Because soap and water is good enough to disinfect our hands.