A popular Fife tourist attraction has introduced additional safety measures after a three-year-old boy was “blinded” by hand sanitiser.
Jaxson Mcavoy, who lives in Falkirk, was screaming in agony after being squirted in the eye while using a dispenser at the entrance to Deep Sea World in North Queensferry on Sunday.
Medics reckon the youngster will not lose the sight in his right eye but are unable to say to what extent his vision will be impaired.
Mum Katie believes a delay in getting him immediate care may have worsened his injuries.
She said aquarium staff asked her to pay the £38 entrance fee for her family to get access to the main building so she could get first aid for her son, who celebrated his birthday the day before.
Bosses said that was not the case.
She said Jaxson was in agony after the accident.
“The doctor said it was like pouring acid on your eye because it’s pure alcohol,” she said.
“Instead of squirting straight down, it scooshed out the way and it went right into his eye.
“He was screaming and rolling about the floor. The reception desk was right next to us and I asked the girl if they had first aid because he had got it in his eye.
“She told me I’d need to pay to get in first. I asked if she was being serious and she said she needed to take the money and then she’d get someone.
“I just wanted to get help so I just paid the £38. It’s disgusting.”
Katie says her family were told to wait while a first aider was contacted but rushed their little boy into the toilets to wash his eyes with water.
“My husband started crying, saying ‘he’s blind, he’s blind’,” she added.
“I was crying hysterically as well and that’s when I said we needed them to phone an ambulance.
“They said it would be about half an hour because they had a backlog of calls.
“The staff member said we’d probably be better just taking him to hospital ourselves.
“We didn’t know where the nearest hospital was because we’re not from that area.
“Accidents happen but see if we had got the proper help, the outcome could have been very different.”
A spokesperson for Deep Sea World said: “On reporting the incident to our staff at reception, our first aider arrived at the scene within five minutes and along with the child’s parents, administered a saline eye wash in-line with the product guidance.
“Our first aider took the decision to contact 999 because of the age of our young visitor and his distress.
“The operative advised that the eye wash was the right course of action but that if the child’s parents felt he needed medical attention then it would be best to travel to hospital themselves because of the ambulance wait times, which the family proceeded to do.
“We have kept in contact with the Mcavoy family since the incident to monitor Jaxson’s condition and will continue to do so.
“At no time did we suggest the family should be charged to use our facilities or for first aid help but a ticket was purchased before they took the decision to go to hospital and we will have offered a full refund.
“As a result of the incident last week we have checked all our 11 approved sanitizing stations throughout the aquarium and they will continue to be checked and maintained as part of our thorough daily inspections.”