Hand sanitizer and fireworks a ‘recipe for disaster,’ experts say

Credit: AJC

Hand Sanitizer May Make Fireworks More Dangerous on July 4

Credit: AJC

If you’re lighting fireworks this Fourth of July weekend, there’s an added risk you should know about

As if this weren’t already a July 4th weekend like no other, there’s a new danger experts are warning the public about.

"Alcohol and fire do not mix," National Safety Council spokeswoman Maureen Vogel told CNN. "You shouldn't pair flammable items; it's the proverbial recipe for disaster."

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Vogel isn’t talking about drinking, though. She’s talking about hand sanitizer, much of which is 60% to 80% alcohol.

With so many big fireworks displays canceled this year, it’s highly likely more people will stage their own celebrations at home. And with coronavirus cases increasing every day, people are trying to reduce their risk by using hand sanitizer.

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Doctors say it takes at least 30 seconds for it to evaporate, but the alcohol remains on hands.

"It can be a third degree burn because alcohol is potent and flammable," Dr. Dhaval Bhavsar, medical director of the University of Kansas Medical System's Burnett Burn Center, told news outlet KSHB.

Vogel and Bhavsar recommend washing your hands with soap and water before lighting fireworks.

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Another option is to use a punk stick to light your explosives.

Punk sticks — made of bamboo and coated with compressed sawdust — resemble sticks of incense. They are long and burn slowly, with no open flame, making them safer around children. Because of their length, the user can maintain a safer distance from the explosive they’re trying to ignite.

Punk sticks can be used to light sparklers for the children, or to light any fireworks that have a fuse.

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