One day after a bottle of hand sanitizer caused a family's car to go up in flames in suburban Waukegan, the fire department is warning the public to keep bottles of hand sanitizer out of the sun during the summer heat.
On Thursday, Juan Rodriguez and his family were preparing to go fishing when a neighbor noticed his car was on fire.
"I just kind of panicked at the same, you know, just opened the door from the other side and all the smoke started coming out, and I noticed the dashboard was on fire," he said.
Rodriguez's wife put out the fire, which investigators said was caused by a bottle of hand sanitizer inside the vehicle.
"While the hand sanitizer bottle was the cause more than the contents, we just want people to remember to store it safely in their cars and in their homes — out of direct sunlight," said Lt. Todd Zupec with the Waukegan Fire Department.
Hand sanitizer fires are rare, but possible, according to the National Fire Protection Association. And with more people using sanitizer due to the coronavirus pandemic, fire officials want to make sure people are aware of the dangers.
After Rodriguez's fire, Waukegan Mayor Sam Cunningham decided something needed to be done, so the fire department posted a warning to residents on Facbook.
"We are just trying to make people aware that these things exist," Cunningham said.
And because the fire was sparked by a flammable substance, Rodriguez said, his insurance won't cover the damage.
"It sucks," he said. "Right now we are car less... We are trying to figure it out, what's next."