Charity warns of handwash moonshine danger
A homelessness charity is warning of the dangers of alcoholic hand wash gels after a man died after reportedly getting drunk on the product.
Thames Reach is calling for a strong message to be sent out about the risks associated with consuming hospital handwash gels and said that dispensers need to be put in safer places.
The charity made the call after a man drowned in a canal in Paddington. Police are investigating reports that the man took high-strength alcohol from St Mary’s Hospital and drank it before he drowned.
Mike Nicholas, a spokesperson for Thames Reach, said: ‘It is with great regret we hear of another death as a result of the consumption of alcoholic hand gel.
‘Sadly, this ties in with a pattern we first identified back in 2008 when it emerged that there had been five deaths in London among Central and Eastern European rough sleepers who had stolen these alcoholic hand gels from hospitals and drunk them – dying directly from the poisonous effects.
‘Thames Reach issued some leaflets in a number of languages, warning of the dangers of these hand gels and called on hospitals to improve security on their hand gel dispensers.
‘There is still clearly a need to put the dispensers in a safer place, ensure that they are securely locked and to raise awareness of the issue among hospital staff.
‘These hand gels are being abused by people with chronic alcohol problems who either don’t know or are too desperate to care about the risks – we need to get the message out that drinking these products can kill.’
Drinking the gels can lead to gastric pain, vomiting and a depression of the central nervous system, leading to aspiration, respiratory arrest and death.