Teens, the adolescent versions of Baby Geniuses, are known for having great ideas.
Louis Braille was fifteen years old when he invented the system of reading and writing for the visually impaired that bears his name, and also six teenagers in the San Fernando Valley have had to go to the emergency room this year after getting hammered off hand sanitizer.
The news of those latter teens' great idea has spread like Purell all over everything after you've left it in a hot car all day, and, now, according to the Los Angeles Times, "public health officials," AKA your aunt, a couple months from now, in a chain email, are worried hand sanitrippin' will become
This is bad news because, if there's one thing teens love more than not giving an eff, it's "a thing."
Getting blitzed off hand sanitizer is, as one might expect, a particularly dangerous kind of "a thing."
The Times reports that "some" of the trailblazing teens (which means: more than 1, fewer than 6) used salt to separate the alcohol from the sanitzer—a great idea that I certainly wouldn't have thought of. Do that and you've got yourself a potent little shot.
The liquid hand sanitizer is 62% ethyl alcohol and makes a 120-proof liquid. A few drinks can cause a person's speech to slur and stomach to burn, and make people so drunk that they have to be monitored in the emergency room.
Cyrus Rangan, director of the LA County Public Health Department, a medical toxicology consultant for Children's Hospital Los Angeles, and teens' new semi-homemade mixologist guru, revealed to the Times that, as far as moonshines go, hand sanitizer, while quite dangerous to imbibe, is pretty cost effective:
"All it takes is just a few swallows and you have a drunk teenager."
Rangan also added it was "kind of scary" that teens are reportedly going so far as to research homemade distillation techniques online, in order to get their hand sanity fix.
(Teens are generally not known for demonstrating much enthusiasm with regards to conducting independent research.)
If you are a parent who wants to prevent your teen from getting sloshed off Mr. Clean's Tears, the first thing you should do is make sure they are aware this even exists as an option in the first place.
If your teen expresses incredulousness that this is, in fact, a widespread trend, print out many articles for them explaining that the drinking of hand sanitizer certainly could become a widespread trend.
If you just gotta have the devil's juice in your house, another Children's Hospital Los Angeles official, Helen Arbogast, an injury prevention coordinator who works with the trauma program, suggests buying the foam version of antibacterial solution rather than the sexy slick liquid gel, "because it is harder to extract the alcohol and teenagers may be less likely to drink it."
Per the same official: Don't leave hand sanitizer out where teens can just grab it like it's no big deal, and "monitor it like any other liquor or medicine."
In other words: lock up that hand sanitizer or your collection of guns with broken safeties and the serial numbers filed off won't be the only loaded things lying around your house.
If your teen seems dismissive of your concerns, chances are he or she has already developed a pretty serious hand sanitizer habit, and may even be a little buzzed during your presentation of evidence that this
is could become a real and dangerous trend.
If you suspect your teen has already been hypno-‘tized, look them in the eye and say, "Listen. If you're going to drink hand sanitizer, like I know you are, I'd prefer you do it in the house."
Then, hand them a small bottle and teach them this rhyme:
Beer before liquor, never sicker.
Liquor before beer in the clear.
Salt in the ‘tizer, never been wiser.
Chugging Purell straight, you are a dumb teen and I hate you.
There were no documented cases of teens ending up in the emergency room after purposely ingesting hand sanitizer prior to this year. Young kids sometimes did it accidentally.
[Image via AP]