Bergen County boy burned by sanitizer sold at 7-Eleven, mom says
RIVER VALE — Police have removed bottles of a sanitizer from a convenience store after a mother posted pictures on Facebook saying her son was burned on the arm and leg after using it on Monday.
About a dozen 3-oz bottles of the product, sold at the store as "Spray Sanitizer" with colored spray tops and labeled "mini sprayer" were sold at the 7-Eleven in River Vale on Monday, according to River Vale police.
“While further investigation is underway, our first priority is to make the public aware that they should not use this item if they purchased it at the River Vale 7-Eleven," Lt. John DeVoe said in a statement on the River Dale Police Facebook page. "As far as we know, this issue is limited to the River Vale store at this time. From the information that we received, approximately one dozen of the bottles were sold to customers today.”
DeVoe told New Jersey 101.5 that an investigation determined the bottles contained a mixture of chemically available hand sanitizers created by store employees that had some kind of reaction.
DeVoe said it was "complete lapse in judgement" by the employees and there was no intention to cause harm. The Bergen County Prosecutor's Office is investigating the incident, according to DeVoe.
"Local, county, and state authorities" have been contacted by police as part of their investigation, police said. They asked anyone who purchased the product to contact them by calling 201-664-1111.
Laurie Michele Gehm posted pictures on her Facebook page she said were of her son Dylan in an ER with redness on his arms and the calf of his leg. She said the product was "loaded with ammonia" and caused her son "major pain." Doctors applied an ointment to the affected areas, according to a comment by Gehm.
This was sold to a bunch of kids and they innocently sprayed it and now we are here with Dylan in major pain!" Gehm wrote in her post.
DeVoe said three other kids were sprayed with the concoction but did not suffer any injures.
Gehm, in the comments of her post, uploaded a picture that appears to show the ingredients of the product. She said in the comments they were provided by the store manager when she called. The label says they include octyl decyl dimethyl ammonium chloride and dioctyl dimethyl ammonium chloride. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information these chemicals can cause severe skin burns, as noted by NBC 4 New York.
7-Eleven's corporate office in a statement said the safety and well being of its customers is of "utmost importance" and said the store is owned by a franchisee.
"Franchisees operate as independent business owners and are obligated to comply with all federal, state and local laws related to the operations of their stores. We understand the severity of this situation and are cooperating with local law enforcement. We are reviewing this matter internally and will take appropriate action," read their statement.
Fear of the coronavirus has led people to stock up on santizers, leaving store shelves empty and online retailers with sky-high prices set by those trying to profit on the rush. More is on the way, although it's not clear how long it will take retailers to restock.
Steps to prevent the spread of flu and the common cold will also help prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to the New Jersey Department of Health:
- Wash hands often with soap and water. If they're not available, use hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home while you are sick and avoid contact with others.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
The CDC says symptoms of COVID-19, which may appear two to 14 days after exposure, include:
- Shortness of breath
If individuals are experiencing symptoms, they should call their healthcare provider before visiting their office.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report
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