For the second month in a row, the latest installment of my Learn Something New YouTube video series deals with a safety topic related to the global coronavirus pandemic. In March, I released a video on NFPA's first responder infection control standard, NFPA 1581. This month, I've tackled the topic of hand sanitizer, and the fire safety considerations for handling and storing this flammable liquid.
If in the past few weeks you've visited any store that typically sells hand sanitizer, you've likely had no luck finding it. Faced with COVID-19 fears, frantic shoppers have snatched up every last bottle of hand sanitizer along with the rest of the disinfectant wipes, sprays, and toilet paper. To meet the surge in hand sanitizer demand, some businesses already versed in the world of alcohol, like breweries and distilleries, are shifting their production capabilities to crank out hand sanitizer instead of booze.
The problem with that, safety experts have warned, is it could create a fire hazard, especially when large amounts of hand sanitizer are being stored in areas that weren't designed to hold such a highly flammable product. While most hard liquor clocks in at 40 percent ethanol by volume, hand sanitizer ranges from 60 to 95 percent. "They may have introduced things that compromise previously put in place protections," Guy Colonna, director of NFPA's Engineering Technical Services division, says in the video.
When more than 5 gallons of hand sanitizer is being stored, the provisions found in NFPA 30, Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code, apply. These provisions require, for example, storage in a flammable liquids cabinet or in an area protected by an automatic sprinkler system, depending on how much liquid is being stored.
Watch my full interview with Guy below.