Are sanitisers a fire-safety hazard if left in cars? Experts weigh in

Made of isopropyl alcohol, the sanitiser is a flammable substance and it can catch fire if directly exposed to extreme heat conditions.

Published: 23rd May 2020 11:50 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd May 2020 11:50 AM   |  A+A-

hand sanitiser

Hand sanitizers have been used widely now to clean hands and protect one from contracting the coronavirus. (Photo | AP)

Express News Service

HYDERABAD: With the temperature hitting 40 degree Celsius and above, the Telangana State Disaster Response and Fire Services Department has warned people against leaving hand sanitisers in their vehicles during the day. Made of isopropyl alcohol, the sanitiser is a flammable substance and it can catch fire if directly exposed to extreme heat conditions.

Ever since the Covid-19 outbreak, it has become a norm for people to carry sanitisers with them.It may be recalled that on April 22, a truck carrying 5,000 litres of sanitiser caught fire near Miyapur. The officials of the Fire Services Department suspected that sanitiser leaked from 250 cans caught fire after being exposed to the heat generated by the truck.

Jeedimetla Station Fire Officer Subash Reddy said though isopropyl’s boiling point was high, the refraction effect created through a windshield or wind panes could ignite fire under heatwave-like conditions.

“Inside a car, there is sufficient oxygen. If a sanitiser bottle is not closed properly, there is a chance that the alcohol content will evaporate and create electric sparks. This can happen even if someone lights a cigarette inside the car,” Reddy said.

After a long drive, the car engine gets overheated and if it is parked under direct sunlight, any flammable substances in the car, including liquor bottles, may catch fire, he said.  He advised the vehicle owners to park their vehicles in shade. Also, it is better not to keep a sanitiser inside a vehicle.

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