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Is Hand Sanitiser a Fire Risk?

Is Hand Sanitiser a Fire Risk?

Is hand sanitiser a fire risk?

With hand sanitiser now playing such an important role in our daily lives, bottles of the liquid are now in homes, offices, shops, cafes and cars around the world. While the benefits of hand sanitiser are clear, there have been claims that it can actually pose a fire risk in certain situations.

In this article, Scutum Group are going to look at the facts and determine if hand sanitiser is a fire risk.

Can Hand Sanitiser Catch Fire?

Firstly, and most importantly, it has been determined that hand sanitiser cannot catch fire in a car or building without a spark. It will not catch fire on its own.

Let’s get a clearer picture of how this claim came about, and look further into any potential fire risk involving hand sanitiser.

Claims on Social Media

The initial claims that hand sanitiser poses a fire risk seemed to start on Facebook, with a widely-shared photo claiming that a bottle of hand sanitiser caught fire when left in a car which
reached 35°c.

According to the photo, hand sanitiser has a low flashpoint of 21°c, which is why it can catch fire when left in hot cars. Additionally, NHS Property Services issued a warning to their frontline staff about the dangers of leaving hand sanitiser in their cars. This warning was later retracted when further evidence was made available.

The National Fire Chiefs Council issued a statement on the claims of hand sanitiser fires, confirming there have been no cases of these fires in the UK. The statement from NFCC Chair, Roy Wilsher, said:

“We want to reassure people that this product will not combust if left in a car – even on the hottest day. For hand sanitiser to cause a fire it would need to come into contact with a spark.

“Hand sanitiser is very important in the fight against the spread of COVID-19, therefore it is essential we debunk this myth. We advise people to ensure they store their hand sanitisers in vehicles safely, which includes keeping bottles closed and out of direct sunlight. such as in the glove box. This will ensure the contents do not deteriorate and means bottles cannot be magnified by the sun. Sanitiser should also be kept away from naked flame.”

What is a Flashpoint?

The aforementioned ‘flashpoint’ of the hand sanitiser means the point at which the liquid will start to emit vapour. This vapour is what a spark will ignite, and that’s why the low flashpoint of hand sanitiser was a cause of concern for some. However, without ignition, the vapour from the sanitiser will not combust.

To combust without ignition from a spark, the liquid would need to reach 350°c. So, while hand sanitiser cannot realistically combust on its own, it is important that you store it away from heat sources and keep it away from places where sparks may occur.

So, despite initial fears about the fire risk of hand sanitiser, it is extremely unlikely that yours will combust if you leave it in the car. To be on the safe side, keep your sanitiser away from heat sources and areas where sparks may occur, but leaving your bottle in the glove compartment is not going to cause a fire.

Scutum London are experts in fire safety equipment and training, ensuring that businesses around the country are fully protected and prepared for any type of fire emergency. For more information about our services, contact us and we’ll be happy to help.

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About Scutum London

Scutum London is a leading expert in fire safety and security solutions for businesses and organisations located across South East England, including London and Surrey.

From fire alarms, fire extinguishers and fire risk assessments to access control, CCTV and intruder alarm systems – and a lot more besides – we offer a comprehensive range of products and services designed to keep you, your business and your staff and visitors safe.

With decades of industry experience to call on, we’re proud to hold accreditations from leading trade associations and bodies such as British Approvals for Fire Equipment (BAFE), the British Fire Consortium, the Fire Industry Association (FIA) and Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board (SSAIB).

If you’d like to find out more about Scutum London, get in touch with our friendly team or explore our products and services on our site.


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