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IOGP Issues Safety Alert About Hand Sanitizer Fires

The International Association of Oil and Gas Producers has issued a safety alert after reports of a person being burned while using alcohol-based hand sanitizer. After application but before the liquid sanitizer had fully evaporated and dried, the individual touched a metal surface, where a build-up of static created an ignition source and the sanitizer ignited, resulting in an almost invisible flame on both hands.

The individual managed to extinguish the flames but was left with first- and second-degree burns.

What Went Wrong? Hand sanitizer gels contain concentrations of alcohol. Once the hand sanitizer is applied, individuals must make sure the gel has suitable time to dry. Alcohol vapors can ignite if exposed to an ignition source such as light switches or cigarette lighters.

Corrective Actions and Recommendations:

  • When using the alcohol-based hand gel sanitizers, ensure the gel is given suitable time to fully dry or evaporate.
  • Avoid touching any surface until the gel has dried fully. Any form of ignition source has the potential to ignite the alcohol.
  • If unsure about using alcohol-based sanitizers, washing hands with hot, soapy water has the same effect as the hand gel.