Fire Sparked by Unusual Mix of Hand Sanitizer and Olive Oil

When was the last time you reviewed your facility's policies on the proper precautions for using alcohol-based hand rub (ABHR)? An unusual case in Oregon may pique your interest. A young girl was injured in a Portland (Oregon) children's hospital due to an accidental fire caused by ABHR, olive oil and static electricity.

According to the state fire marshal, the patient had undergone an EEG exam and olive oil was used to remove the glue holding the electrodes to the scalp. The patient's father speculates that the patient put ABHR on her shirt to remove olive oil that had dropped from her hair. When the girl attempted to create static electricity using her bed sheets, a spark ignited the fire.

Although this seems to be a once-in-a-blue-moon kind of case, it's never a bad idea to review policies about ABHR placement, proper ventilation, and so on, and inform all staff members of potential hazards. It is recommended that staff members ensure that ABHRs are used only as intended by patients and visitors.