Iowans are being warned about kids’ hand sanitizers packaged with colorful cartoon characters in flexible containers that resemble juice pouches.
Registered nurse Tammy Noble, the education coordinator of the Iowa Poison Control Center, says the product looks so much like a squeezable juice pouch that it’s only a matter of time before some child accidentally swallows a big dollop of sanitizer from the spout.
“I’ve even seen things like apple sauce and fruit sauces in these pouches but now to see that these may also contain hand sanitizer,” Noble says, “I can see a mistake happening so easily with these.
The hand sanitizers feature things like Minions, Trolls, Hot Wheels race cars, Barbie dolls, and Paw Patrol pups. While the package does say “DO NOT EAT” and it’s clearly labeled as hand sanitizer, kids who can’t read might make the mistake and gulp some down, even if it tastes bad.
“I haven’t personally tasted these to know what they’re like, but you can’t always expect that a bad taste means that they’re not going to eat them,” Noble says. “We’ve seen young children swallow things that you would expect would be horribly tasting.” Even during the pandemic, Noble says young kids especially should not be carrying their own hand sanitizer in their lunch boxes or backpacks.
“We do recommend keeping hand sanitizers out of the reach of children at all times,” Noble says. “If a child needs to use it, there should be an adult there dispensing it and supervising them, making sure they’re only using a dime-sized amount and that they’re rubbing their hands together thoroughly until it’s completely dry.”
Some hand sanitizers contain more than 60% ethyl alcohol, which is considerably more than many wines, beers, or hard liquors adults buy to drink. Consuming hand sanitizer could be dangerous for a child. “If you suspect a child has ingested hand sanitizer, we do suggest calling the Poison Help Hotline at 1-800-222-1222,” Noble says. “Don’t wait for symptoms to develop.”
The Iowa Poison Control Center is based in Sioux City and is available 24-7.