Teens die after drinking racing fuel

Teens mixing racing fuel with Mountain Dew

Mountain Dew by itself isn’t the healthiest drink to put in your body. Mix it with racing fuel and the result can be deadly, as several Tennessee teens recently discovered.

Racing fuel is made up of almost 100 percent methanol, a non-drinkable form of alcohol used for industrial and automotive purposes. Initially, methanol can give the same effects as ethanol, which is used in making alcoholic beverages. However, methanol is extremely poisonous – as little as 2 to 8 ounces can be deadly for an adult – and can result in permanent blindness, coma and other long-term issues.

The Kentucky Regional Poison Control Center provides 24/7 free access to specially trained nurses, pharmacists and physicians. Calls are confidential. You can reach the poison control center’s hotline at (800) 222-1222 or go to KRPCC.com for more information.

“Methanol consumption is a true emergency,” said Ashley Webb, director of the Kentucky Regional Poison Control Center of Norton Children’s Hospital and a board-certified clinical toxicologist. “While the Tennessee case is gaining attention, people drinking high concentrations of methanol happen all over the country, including here in Kentucky.”

Webb said in many cases methanol consumption is intentional and generally involves teenagers and adults. However, there also are accidental cases.

“An example would be someone confusing a cup of windshield washer fluid for a sports drink,” Webb said. “This happens more than one might think.”

If you encounter someone who’s consumed methanol, here are some tips on handling the situation:

  • Do NOT make the person throw up. 
  • If the chemical is on the skin or in the eyes, flush with a lot of water for at least 15 minutes.
  • If the person breathed in the poison, immediately move him or her to fresh air. 
  • If the person is unresponsive, not breathing, or having convulsions immediately call 911. Otherwise, contact the Kentucky Regional Poison Control Center for medical instruction.

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