Fire district apologizes for 'confusion' after viral warning about hand sanitizer exploding

Fire district apologizes for 'confusion' after viral warning about hand sanitizer exploding
© Greg Nash

Wisconsin fire fighters deleted a warning that hand sanitizer could explode if left in hot cars after it went viral recently and apologized for causing "confusion."

"It’s become clear that a recent post about hand sanitizer was taken in many different directions from our original goal," the Western Lakes Fire District posted on Thursday.

Hand sanitizer sales have surged amid the coronavirus pandemic. Health officials recommend using a hand sanitizer made of at least 60 percent alcohol, which makes the substance flammable.

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However, it still requires an ignition source to combust, as the fire district was forced to clarify.

The district originally shared a photo that looked like a melted car door along with a warning that hand sanitizer "is alcohol-based and therefore flammable."

“Keeping it in your car during hot weather, exposing it to sun causing magnification of light through the bottle — and particularly being next to open flame while smoking in vehicles or grilling while enjoying this weekend — can lead to disaster,” the post read, according to the New York Post.

The original post on Facebook that appeared earlier on Thursday, went viral and was shared by official social media accounts as far away as the Texas Department of Public Safety, according to CBS News.

However, the district clarified in their follow-up post that the photo they shared was not from an incident involving hand sanitizer.

The photo "was to illustrate a door fire resulting from contact with open flame which was the center of our post," according to the fire district.

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"While infrequent, there have been cases in the recent past w[h]ere reflecting light placed through a clear bottle was able to focus onto a combustible surface and cause a fire," according to the fire district. "This has primarily been through water bottles but since hand sanitizer is often stored in the same vessel, we wanted to pass it along for your safety."

The Wisconsin fire district in their original post had also linked to a YouTube video by the National Fire Protection Association. That video has also been updated with a clarification.

"Hand sanitizer is not subject to self-heating and would require temperatures to reach over 700 degrees Fahrenheit to spontaneously combust, as some commenters have indicated," it reads.