Sunday, May 24, 2020

Hand sanitizer left in hot vehicles can explode, experts warn

In a couple of novels I read lately, there was a scene where alcohol splashed on a person in the presence of fire which caused the alcohol to catch fire.

May 22, 2020 / 11:26 AM

There's a hidden risk with keeping hand sanitizer in your car to help protect against COVID-19 and other illnesses, especially during the hot summer months. Flammable liquids and direct sunlight can make it explode, CBS Dallas warns.

"It's flammable and it's an irritant," retired Dallas firefighter Sherrie Wilson told the station. "When it's venting and if it's venting in a small space like a car, and vapor is released, it can explode."


Wilson said pump bottles pose a greater risk because vapors can leak into a hot car and create a combustible environment.

"What happens with flammables is they turn to vapor, and they vaporize into a confined space … a car. And then if there was any introduction of static electricity, (which) could simply be somebody getting in and pulling down on a sweater or jacket or anything like that," an explosion could result, Wilson explained.

There are also concerns that leaving hand sanitizer in a hot car could make it less effective.

"If the alcohol evaporates, the hand sanitizer is less efficient. It is the alcohol that kills the germs," said Dr. Mihaela C. Stefan, of The University of Texas at Dallas Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.


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