Avoid using hand sanitizer before handling Fourth of July fireworks, officials warn

LORNE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 31: Festival attendees hold up sparklers to celebrate the new year during day three of The Falls Music & Arts Festival on December 31, 2008 in Lorne, Australia. (Photo by Kristian Dowling/Getty Images)

It’s hard to imagine celebrating the Fourth of July without fireworks. But if you’ve become a routine hand sanitizer user amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, take heed: do not use it before handling fireworks, as the two pose a dangerous – and very flammable – combination.

“Keep in mind, if you are using consumer fireworks this year, DO NOT USE HAND SANITIZER AT THE SAME TIME! Wash your hands only with soap and water. Hand Sanitizer is flammable!” warned the City of Greensboro Fire Department in a recent Facebook post.

Indeed, as many are aware, alcohol and fire are a dangerous duo. Dee Shelton, fire and life safety educator with the City of Greensboro Fire Department, told The News & Observer that those celebrating Independence Day should avoid using hand sanitizer not just prior to handling fireworks, but also while near any open flame, such as a grill or a campfire.

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“On average, 180 people go to the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries in the month around the July 4th holiday,” according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which noted that 57 percent of all firework-related injuries are for burns. 

Last year alone, fireworks were involved in roughly 10,000 injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms across the country, with an estimated 58 percent of those being burns, according to the agency's 2019 Fireworks Annual Report,

“Burns were the most common injury to hands, fingers, arms, and legs,” the report said.

RELATED: FDA warns of hand sanitizers containing toxic chemicals

Hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol is one of the three essential items the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends having on hand when venturing out.

Researchers in a recent study found that using hand sanitizer for at least 30 seconds can effectively deactivate the novel coronavirus.

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