Two boys - Prakash and Mukundan - from the Sirukaveripakkam area in Kancheepuram district suffered burn injuries on Sunday morning after they tried to set some sanitiser liquid on fire. The two young children, Prakash (11) and Mukundhan (7), were without adult supervision when the incident took place.
According to reports, Prakash and Mukundan collected a few sticks, arranged them and poured the alcohol-based sanitiser liquid over it. They continued pouring the liquid along a straight line, leading it away from the sticks and ignited it while holding the bottle in hand. The flames unexpectedly caught on their clothes, resulting in burn injuries on their body.
Residents of the village doused the fire and rushed them to the Kancheepuram Medical College immediately. However, since both of them suffered around 20% burns, they were shifted to the burns ward in the Kilpauk Medical College in Chennai. While no case has been registered, it is being reported that they had no adult supervision when the incident took place.
In the last few months, sanitisers have become a part of every household across the country. Though crucial in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, these liquids contain approximately 60% ethyl alcohol by volume, which is flammable. Research found that the observed temperatures above the flames were higher for the liquid hand sanitiser compared to the gel.
The World Health Organisation says that the benefits of alcohol in terms of infection prevention far outweigh the fire risks. However, WHO says that all alcohol-based products are potentially flammable and therefore they should be stored away from high temperatures and flames. The WHO suggests that all health-care organisations currently using alcohol-based hand wash should undertake local risk assessments.
There have been rare cases where the sanitiser has ignited due to static electricity. This is why it has been recommended that people should touch surfaces only after the sanitiser has evaporated from their hand.
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