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Coronavirus: Hand sanitizer can be very dangerous near a flame

Emergency rooms treating patients with burns on their hands

With everyone trying to keep their hands as clean as possible, we are learning of a new danger during the coronavirus pandemic.

Several people have suffered burns on their hands after they suddenly caught fire because they had just applied hand sanitizer.

Experts say wait at least a minute for the sanitizer to dry on your hands and then wave your hands to remove any vapors that may be floating around.

Local 10 News' Jeff Weinsier coated a thick leather glove with hand sanitizer and lit a barbeque grill.

While there was barely a visible flame, he felt extreme heat on his hand.

"You don’t even have to be close to a fire for it to catch fire," said board certified plastic surgeon Jacob Freiman. "That can make it a very scary injury, especially because its stick wound so much."

Local 10 News has learned several people recently wound up in the emergency room with burns to their hands.

Alcohol-based hand sanitizer is safe, classified as a Class IC Flammable Liquid, which means they have a flash point of less than 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Hand sanitizer vapors can be flammable, producing a translucent blue flame.

"If you get away with it, it is just a first degree burn, like a sun burn," said Dr. Freiman. "Anything (more, like) a deep second degree or third degree, you are looking at recovery."

Liquid hand sanitizer burns hotter compared to the gel.

Soap and water has shown to work even better than hand sanitizer.

On their website, the makers of Purell recommend you not use their product near an open flame, or while smoking a cigarette.


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