Disinfectant on Chinese man's body ignites near heater

PHOTO: Screengrab/Weibo

While we are doing our best to stay safe from viruses, here's another thing to keep in mind: fire safety.

A Hangzhou man was hospitalised on Feb 8 with severe burns after the alcohol that he had applied on his body ignited while he stood beside an electric heater, said Chinese media reports.

The man, identified only as Zhang, 37, was trying to disinfect himself after getting off work.

However, forgetting that alcohol is highly flammable, Zhang applied the alcohol to his body and clothes as he stood beside an electric heater.

All of a sudden, he was engulfed in flames.

The blaze had been caused by Zhang's proximity to the heater, explained Fu Zhihui, the head of the hospital's burns department.

Zhang suffered second- to third-degree burns on 15 per cent of his body, including his hands, face, neck, thighs and respiratory tract.

He remains in critical condition and may need skin graft surgery in the future, Fu said.

Zhang, an employee at a polyester yarn factory, also may not be able to regain full use of his hands.

While it is safe to use a small amount of alcohol for disinfection, using too much or dousing an entire room with it may be dangerous, especially if there are appliances such as heaters in the room, Fu cautioned.

Following Zhang's accident, the local fire department published a list of reminders in a Weibo post:

  • Avoid using alcohol to disinfect objects when you are near an open flame
  • Switch off electrical appliances before disinfecting them
  • Switch off the fire before disinfecting your kitchen hob
  • Wipe disinfectant instead of spraying it. Do open your windows to ensure that there is sufficient ventilation.

kimberlylim@asiaone.com