Four-year old Girl Intoxicated From Hand Sanitizer-Truth!

Summary of eRumor:

The author of the email says her 4-year old daughter ate hand sanitizer at pre-school and was rushed to the hospital with potentially deadly alcohol intoxication.

The Truth:

The story is true, although with one glaring factual error.

According to a Fox 23 Tulsa television interview with her parents, Matt and Lacey Butler, Little Halle was in a pre-kindergarten class at Okmulgee Primary School in Okmulgee, Oklahoma when a teacher did what seemed to be right, gave Halle some hand sanitizer to clean her hands before eating lunch.  Instead of rubbing it in, however, Halle ate it.  She licked it from her hand.  Shortly afterwards her behavior was alarming enough that she was taken to a local hospital.  Matt Butler says that when he arrived at the emergency room, his daughter was leaning against a wall, that her eyes would not focus, and she could not walk.  

Doctors determined that she was intoxicated.

The eRumor says her blood alcohol level (BAC) was 85 percent, which nobody would survive so that figure is obviously wrong.   A BAC of .40% would be considered a lethal level.

Hand sanitizers have an alcohol level of more than 60 percent.  Hard liquor, by comparison, is 40 percent alcohol while most beers are less than 5 percent alcohol.  

Unlike other poisons and alcoholic beverages, however, most hand sanitizers are easily accessible to children and most of us would not think about the danger.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns that alcohol can cause drunkenness as well as serious poisoning leading to seizures, coma, and even death in young children—and that children are more sensitive to the toxic effects of alcohol than adults.

Updated 8-28-09

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

Ok. I don’t know where to begin because the last 2 days of my life have been such a blur. Yesterday, My youngest daughter Halle who is 4, was rushed to the emergency room by her father for being severely lethargic and incoherent. He was called to her school by the school secretary for being “very VERY sick.” He told me that when he arrived that Halle was barely sitting in the chair. She couldn’t hold her own head up and when he looked into her eyes, she couldn’t focus them.

He immediately called me after he scooped her up and rushed her to the ER. When we got there, they ran blood test after blood test and did x-rays, every test imaginable. Her white blood cell count was normal, nothing was out of the ordinary. The ER doctor told us that he had done everything that he could do so he was sending her to Saint Francis for further test.

Right when we were leaving in the ambulance, her teacher had come to the ER and after questioning Halle’s classmates, we found out that she had licked hand sanitizer off her hand. Hand sanitizer, of all things. But it makes sense. These days they have all kinds of differents scents and when you have a curious child, they are going to put all kinds of things in their mouths.

When we arrived at Saint Francis, we told the ER doctor there to check her blood alcohol level, which, yes we did get weird looks from it but they did it. The results were her blood alcohol level was 85% and this was 6 hours after we first took her. Theres no telling what it would have been if we would have tested it at the first ER.

Since then, her school and a few surrounding schools have taken this out of the classrooms of all the lower grade classes but whats to stop middle and high schoolers too? After doing research off the internet, we have found out that it only takes 3 squirts of the stuff to be fatal in a toddler. For her blood alcohol level to be so high was to compare someone her size to drinking something 120 proof. So please PLEASE don’t disregard this because I don’t ever want anyone to go thru what my family and I have gone thru. Today was a little better but not much. Please send this to everyone you know that has children or are having children. It doesn’t matter what age. I just want people to know the dangers of this.

Thank you
Lacey Butler and family