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Colorado Springs Fire Department says hand sanitizer fires are not a concern

Posted at 2:02 PM, May 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-28 16:08:55-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — A social media post claiming hand sanitizers can cause fires if left in a hot car has gone viral. But is it true?

It's possible for sunlight to cause magnification through your hand sanitizer bottle, which can cause flames, but a lot has to happen in order for a fire to start.

The bottle has to have liquid, the liquid and the bottle have to be clear, and sunlight has to pass through it at just the right angle. Even then, the ignition temperature has to be extremely high.

"You would need the ignition temperature to get above 700 degrees," explained Kris Cooper, deputy fire marshal for the Colorado Springs Fire Department. "Our hot cars only reach temperatures of 200 degrees."

Cooper says the alcohol content of the hand sanitizer also has to be pretty high to start a blaze. He says leaving hand sanitizer in your car in general is not a good idea because the sunlight can cause the potency to wear-off.

While hand sanitizer fires are not a big concern in Colorado Springs, other types of fires are.

"This year alone we have already seen five structure fires caused by cigarettes," he said.

According to Cooper, there is a proper way to put out a cigarette. Be sure to douse cigarettes with water or sand. Before discarding cigarette butts and ashes in the trash, douse them with water again so that nothing catches fire.

"Those ends of the cigarettes an get very hot and they can smolder for quite a while. If you drop those on the ground they sit in the grass, the wind picks up and it stokes that fire," he said.

Residents need to remember the city of Colorado Springs is under a burn ban. The fire department has also put out fires related to burn pits.