A car exploded into flames Thursday evening in Maryland when a driver used hand sanitizer while smoking a cigarette, according to Montgomery County Fire and Rescue.
The fire started about 5:30 p.m. at the Federal Plaza Shopping Center in Rockville.
The driver used hand sanitizer while smoking a cigarette, which a Montgomery County Fire and Rescue spokesman said is a bad combination in an unventilated area like a car. It’s not really the liquid of the sanitizer that is catching fire, but the vapors, which is why it’s extremely important to apply it in a well-ventilated area.
Montgomery County Fire and Rescue treated and transported one adult with minor burns and non-life threatening injuries.
The car was a total loss.
Most hand sanitizers contain isopropyl alcohol, which is flammable and can cause burn injuries if used improperly.
The Mechanical Contractors Association of America sent out a warning about the dangers of using alcohol-based hand sanitizers and then touching metal surfaces before the liquid evaporates. Due to static electricity, the vapor from the hand sanitizer can ignite and cause severe burns.
Here are four things to know about using hand sanitizers safely from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
Allow the gel to dry before touching electrical tools and equipment;
Keep hand sanitizer away from open flames and high heat areas;
Avoid hand sanitizers that are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration;
Check the FDA’s hand sanitizer do-not-use list to learn which alcohol-based products are safe.