As usual, she had applied some hand sanitiser after returning from a shopping trip to avoid catching coronavirus. Karen, 49, didn’t think twice about setting fire to some cardboard packaging but got a terrible fright when the 70% alcohol sparked a sudden explosion.
Grandmother Karen Brawn, from Gloucestershire, feared her whole body would go up in flames in the terrifying incident which left her with painful burns and singed hair.
“At 49 you could say I’m old enough to know better about going near fire with 70 per cent alcohol on my hands,” said Karen Brawn after she ended up in hospital due to the terrifying incident
“It burned my hands and singed my hair and gave me a real shock.
A cook’s hands exploded into a “fireball” after she tried to burn some cardboard soon after applying hand sanitiser.
“My daughter saw it and said it was amazing it missed my face and didn’t set fire to my top.”
Explaining what happened, she said: “As I lit the cardboard there was this big ball of flame.
As a head cook and trained first-aider Karen is used to dealing with burns and scalds and quickly submerged her hands in cold water for 20 minutes and applied burn gel.
She has had to take a week off work with her injuries but says they could have been a lot worse if she had rubbed her face or dripped sanitiser on her chiffon-style top before putting the cardboard in the chiminea.
Despite being painful the burns on her bandaged hands and wrists are superficial and will heal, but the mother of four has been signed off for a week because she cannot work. She says she has since heard of other cases, including a smoker, who suffered minor burns because of hands coated in sanitiser.
But she was in so much agony that she decided to go to hospital. “In the end I went to A&E,” she said. “As soon as I told the receptionist what had happened, her face said it all. I’ve since heard a few similar stories.”
“I put it on automatically because I’d been to the shops. We are constantly telling little ones to use it, but we need to be careful.”
“But hand sanitiser has become so much a part of our everyday lives we don’t really think about it any more.
“At 49 you could say I’m old enough to know better about going near fire with 70 per cent alcohol on my hands,” she said.
And as bonfire night approaches, the grandmother from Newent, says people must remember the alcohol content of many santisers means it should be treated with caution because it is flammable.
A spokesman for Public Health England said they could not comment because “the flammability of hand sanitiser is not a public health issue”.
The NHS advises people to use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available but Public Health Health England withdrew original Covid guidance to only use sanitiser that is at least 60 per cent alcohol in March.
A Carex spokesperson said: “We are very sorry to learn of the customer’s distressing accident.
Karen applied Carex hand sanitiser, one of the UK’s most popular and trusted antibacterial brands.