Crazy Combo of Hand Sanitizer, Olive Oil and Static Electricity Sets Girl On Fire

sanitizerIt’s flu season so if you’re anything like me you’re constantly dowsing your kids in hand sanitizer. No big deal, right? But, get this. Sanitizer plus trace amounts of olive oil and a tiny spark of static electricity are being blamed for igniting a fire that badly burned an 11-year-old girl at a Portland hospital.

According to The Washington Post Ireland Lane was a patient at Oregon Health & Science University’s Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. She had a bit of olive oil on her T-shirt and hair because it’s sometimes used to remove the glue that holds electrodes to the scalp during an EEG exam.

Ireland’s dad, Stephen, says she also used an alcohol-based sanitizer kept near her bed. The fire marshal says the girl had just learned about static electricity and was trying to create sparks in her bed by scuffing her feet and rubbing her bedding. The charge likely ignited fumes from the hand sanitizer and burned the olive oil on her cotton T-shirt.

“This was a very unusual combined set of circumstances that resulted in this young girl getting burned,” the fire marshal said.

No kidding.

Ireland suffered second and third degree burns to about 18 percent of her body,  undergoing two skin graft surgeries last week. Can you imagine?

The hospital immediately changed several procedures as a response to the terrible incident. They’re no longer using olive oil for patients who are allergic to EEG gel removers and they plan to review their hand sanitizer procedures to make possible changes.

The fire marshal say salcohol-based hand sanitizers are safe when used according to instructions but what do you think? After reports that that a 4-year-old got drunk from licking the hand sanitizer off her hands and now this, are you still a hand sanitizer fan or is good, old-fashioned soap and water the best way to go?

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You can also find Monica on her personal blog, The Girl Who.

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