Homemade Ice Pack Leads to a Burnt Cornea

September 10, 2014 by John Oliver

A dangerous new cost-saving idea is gaining popularity in homes and businesses across the country. People have begun freezing hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol in plastic bags to create homemade ice packs.

Here at West Bend, we’ve already seen one claim involving an ice pack that ended up opening and getting into a person’s eye. The individual required medical attention for a burnt cornea even though the organization responded promptly and flushed the guest’s eye with water.

Money Saving Measures Aren’t Always Worth It

We understand; saving money is important. But is saving a dollar or two for each ice pack really worth a burnt cornea? We don’t think so.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen unsafe decisions made in the name of pinching pennies. For example, there was the claim we received from a childcare center after an employee broke her arm when she fell off of a chair she was standing on to hang arts and crafts. She was lucky she didn't fall on one of the children napping nearby at the time. A few dollars on a proper step stool could have saved a lot of time, money, and trouble for the center.

Homemade Ice Packs are Dangerous

Step-by-step instructions for making these cheap ice packs are easy to come by. The problem with freezing hand sanitizer or an alcohol and water solution in a plastic bag is that neither of these products is being used for their designed purpose. The directions for rubbing alcohol and hand sanitizer clearly state that they should only be used to disinfect skin and treat minor cuts.

Using these products for any other purpose is dangerous…especially when you consider how flammable they are and how toxic they can be if ingested. As the claim we mentioned illustrates, one of the major dangers from homemade ice packs is the ease with which the contents can spill out and cause irritation. Most plastic storage bags simply aren't designed to be used in this manner. The other safety concern is children ingesting the contents. In fact, the labels on both rubbing alcohol and hand sanitizer clearly state that if either product is ingested Poison Control needs to be contacted immediately.

There is also the potential for the contents to ignite since rubbing alcohol and hand sanitizer can be flammable. To learn more about how flammable and dangerous alcohol-based products can be in the hands of children look no further than the new Dangerous Game Kids Play called “The Fire Challenge”.

Reduce Your Liability

Real ice packs are designed to stay sealed permanently. If they were to open it would almost definitely be due to an error by the manufacturer. This means that the liability for anyone injured by the contents would fall on the manufacturer and not you or your organization. If, on the other hand, someone were injured by the contents of a homemade ice pack created and provided by you, full liability for the injuries sustained would be your responsibility.

Please…before you make a decision to save a few dollars…consider all of the consequences. Don’t bother with homemade ice packs and the very real safety issues they can cause.

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