July 4th pandemic safety tip: Don’t mix hand sanitizer with fireworks

Photo illustration. | Photo by Oatawa, iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — It’s already a different kind of Fourth of July this year because of the pandemic. There won’t be the usual extravaganza at Trailblazer Stadium in St. George or at Main Street Park in Cedar City (though don’t fret, St. George is still getting its largest-ever fireworks display).

Fireworks in a TNT Fireworks tent, St. George, Utah, July 1, 2019 | File photo by Mikayla Shoup, St. George News

While the need for fireworks safety never changes, the pandemic is also bringing a new safety tip this year: Don’t mix hand sanitizer and fireworks. 

The National Safety Council is alerting Americans to make sure to not light fireworks or handle any other fire-related activities like the barbecue grill right after using hand sanitizer.

The main reason is hand sanitizer usually contains 70-80% alcohol, which can be flammable. In fact, as far as the coronavirus is concerned, the alcohol content is the point. The Centers for Disease Contol recommends to use only alcohol-based hand rubs for effectiveness against COVID-19.

But any chemistry teacher or a chef making a flambe will be quick to mention that alcohol can also be highly flammable for a brief time. 

 “Alcohol and fire do not mix,” National Safety Council spokeswoman Maureen Vogel told CNN. “You shouldn’t pair flammable items; it’s the proverbial recipe for disaster.”

Undated photo illustration | Photo by
Panuwat Dangsungnoen/iStock/Getty Inages Plus, St. George News

While hand sanitizer dries quickly as the alcohol dissipates, those lighting up fireworks for the Fourth should make sure to forgo the Purel during that time. 

Even better, experts say, is to rely on a more effective method for killing the virus than hand sanitizer: washing hands with soap for at least 20 seconds.

Regardless, to make sure the holiday doesn’t go up in flames, the other tried-and-true safety tips when handling fireworks still apply, including not letting children handle them, having a bucket of water handy to extinguish used and fizzled fireworks and opting for legal fireworks.

More safety tips can be found at the National Safety Council website.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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