Commonly-used moisturising creams could easily catch fire if exposed to a flame, the fire and rescue service is warning.
A fresh appeal has been launched to raise awareness of the dangers of using paraffin-based emollients – which can make you as flammable as a candle wick.
East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service says, as these creams are often used by people who have eczema and psoriasis, they are applied liberally and readily absorbed into materials including clothing, bedding, and furniture.
If the person then lights a cigarette, for instance, there could be extremely dangerous consequences.
Assistant chief fire officer Mark Andrews said, “We wish to raise awareness around the use of this product, to ensure residents across our service area realise the possible fire risks when using emollient cream.
“Our recommendation would be to ensure all clothing is washed at a higher temperature to remove the flammable product from clothing.
“Also, care should be taken when cooking, or smoking, to ensure that the product has not been absorbed by an item of clothing and exposed to a naked flame.
“We urge residents to spread this fire safety message to loved ones and friends to increase awareness around these types of products, to reduce the risk of fires within the home.”
Naked flames and in some cases smoking materials have caused patients’ dressings or clothing to catch fire when paraffin-based emollient has been used and is in contact with the dressing, clothing or other textiles in contact with the person.
An ordinary low-temperature washing routine does not fully remove the paraffin from textiles, said the fire service, and the build-up of paraffin over a period of time increases the risk of fire when an ignition source is applied.
There have been a number of fatal fires both nationally, as well as locally, where emollient creams have been a significant factor.
Residents are now being advised about these fire risks during home safety visits, in a bid to spread the word and advice is given.
Here are some pieces of advice shared by the fire service:
• Do not smoke or use naked flames (or be near people who are smoking or using naked flames) or go near anything that may cause a fire while emollients are in contact with their medical dressings or clothing.
• Change your clothing and bedding regularly — preferably daily — to reduce the build-up of paraffin within the fabric.
• Clothing should be washed at a higher temperature. It is suggested this should be between 60-90 degrees to remove the paraffin.
• ESFRS said, “Most packaging contains some fire safety advice but our experience is that it is not explicit or clearly visible and is rarely pointed out to users.”
• “Medical staff who prescribe or encourage the use of these creams are often unaware of the fire risks associated with their use.”