Safe Storage and Use of Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer, Controlling Flammable Vapours and Fire Risk

City of Kenora Media Release

Although using hand sanitizer is a good way to clean your hands to slow the spread of COVID-19, Kenora Fire and Emergency Services reminds you to be aware of proper storage and safe use of these flammable products. It is important that you read and follow directions and warnings on hand sanitizer product labels.

Alcohol-based hand sanitizer is flammable and may give off flammable vapours, which could ignite if exposed to open flame or an ignition source.

When using hand sanitizer, follow these safe use and storage tips:

• Keep containers in an upright position and properly sealed to avoid leakage;
• Containers should not be left in direct sunlight to avoid spillage or leakage from pressurization of the container;
• Keep away from open flames and sources of heat;
• Be especially careful if attempting to smoke, light candles, or use a gas stove immediately after applying hand sanitizer;
• When using hand sanitizer, hands should be rubbed together until they are completely dry; and
• Always read product labels carefully and follow the warnings and directions of use.

While reports have surfaced about hand sanitizer catching fire or spontaneously combusting from being kept in a hot vehicle, this is not accurate. The Office of the Fire Marshal (OFM) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) advise that the rate of vapour leakage from a personal container of hand sanitizer left in a hot vehicle does not result in enough vapours to cause concerns.

“There is a lot of misinformation out there about hand sanitizer self-combusting which is not true. However, it is very flammable and care must be taken when around open flame or other ignition sources,” says Fire Chief Todd Skene.

Please continue to stay home, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer, keep a physical distance of 2 metres from others, and most of all be fire safe always.

For more information, please contact Fire Station One at 807-467-2090.