Drunk and on fire: The downside of fighting H1N1 with hand sanitizer in school


In a St. Paul elementary school classroom Friday, students lined up for lunch in silence with their hands cupped. One by one, the students got a squirt of hand sanitizer as their teacher walked down the row of excited students. It's all part of the nation's attempt to stop an H1N1 flu outbreak in schools, where the virus has been known to spread quickly around germ-infested kids who can't break nasty habits that make schools a breeding ground for illness. One kid sneezes without covering their mouth and teachers are on their case.

But a school's attempt to keep kids flu-free this season has to have a downside. Because what's the fun in making an H1N1 outbreak not happen at all? So what's making people so concerned? Apparently these hand sanitizers could make a student or the classroom ignite in flames. Or they could just choose to chug the bottle of delicious gel and get drunk instead.

Yep. Totally plausible. Once kids realize hand sanitizer has the alcohol content of whiskey it will be the new beverage of choice. Conclusion: H1N1 wins again!

More from Chicago Tribune:

A wrinkle has emerged in the world of the squirt happy: Hand sanitizers have a fairly high alcohol content. That has some officials worried about flammability and potential misuse as an intoxicant.

To be effective, health officials deem it necessary to have at least 60 percent alcohol, roughly the equivalent of whiskey, in hand sanitizer. Some schools in Florida and Canada have banned hand sanitizers because of the high concentration of alcohol.

But at a time when officials are more concerned about swine flu, many people say some parents and educators may be over­reacting.

"If [students] are monitored and they're taught how to use it properly, I think the benefit far outweighs the risk," said Sheila Grogan, head of the DuPage County division of the Illinois Association of School Nurses.

It's another unnecessary warning of the day from every person on earth who overreacts. Let's scare parents so much that they don't even let their children leave the house. Pencils can be used to pry a student's eye out. Did you know that? And don't forget the horrors of school bathrooms. We've heard of countless kids drowning in toilets these days. School is a scary place.