I've noticed that oversized displays of hand sanitizers are everywhere -- at the supermarket checkout line, the pharmacy, even the office supplies store. Clearly, we've got germs -- and in particular swine flu -- on our minds as we head into what has been a much-talked about flu season.
But before you place hand sanitizers all over your house, be aware that hand sanitizers and young children don't always mix. Studies have shown that hand sanitizers, which can contain as much as 60 to 70 percent alcohol, can pose a risk to children. For one thing, kids tend to touch their faces and put their hands in their mouths more often than adults, which means anything on their hands is much more likely to end up in their bodies. Younger toddler-age siblings can be particularly at risk because they may find the sometimes fruity or flowery-scented hand sanitizers too enticing to resist tasting. And last but not least, alcohol is extremely flammable.
So while you may be tempted to slather your kids' hands with hand sanitizer to keep them safe from the flu, keep in mind that proper hand washing with soap and water is still the best way to prevent illnesses. Only use hand sanitizers in situations when your family does not have access to soap and water. And follow the product label directions and supervise your kids when they use hand sanitizers.