Nova Scotia

Fire fears in N.S. spark sanitizer ban

There won't be hand sanitizer at dozens of Nova Scotia schools this fall because of fears it could be used to start fires.

There won't be hand sanitizer at dozens of Nova Scotia schools this fall because of fears it could be used to start fires.

The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board has decided not to use hand sanitizers to combat the swine flu virus.

Stephanie Campbell, principal of Brookside Elementary School in Sydney, said the decision was made after a meeting last week with officials from the Department of Health.

Some hand cleaners or sanitizers have a high alcohol content, she said.

"That in and of itself is a concern, as far as it being a flammable substance. So therefore we wouldn't want to have hand sanitizers around our schools in case that somebody decided to take a notion to start a fire using the hand sanitizer."

Paul Oldford, co-ordinator of facilities management for the board, said parents are also discouraged from sending their children to school with personal-sized bottles of hand sanitizer.

"We know of cases where children have consumed it and their blood-alcohol level has risen," he added.

Will be supervised

The school board is making handwashing a priority. If sanitizer must be used, Oldford said, it would be dispensed in classrooms under teacher supervision.

There have been hundreds of cases of swine flu in Nova Scotia since the outbreak began in April. Seventeen people have been hospitalized and one person has died.

The Nova Scotia Office of Health Promotion and Protection is advising school boards to use hand sanitizer as a backup if soap and water isn't available. Schools are also asked to regularly disinfect desks, door knobs and other frequently touched surfaces.

The Cape Breton-Victoria board oversees about 60 schools. Students head to class on Thursday.

The island's other major school board, the Strait Regional School Board, is installing wall units of hand sanitizer in high-traffic areas at its schools and work sites.

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