Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) is urging residents to take care when using emollient creams.
The warning comes after research from the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC), Anglia Ruskin University and De Montfort University, confirmed that both paraffin and non-paraffin emollients can act as an accelerant when absorbed into clothing and exposed to naked flames or other heat sources.
Emollient products, which include creams, ointments, sprays and body wash formulations are used by millions of people every day to manage dry, itchy or scaly skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and ichthyosis. They may contain paraffin or other ingredients such as shea or cocoa butter, beeswax, lanolin, nut oil or mineral oils which can leave a flammable residue. These emollients are not flammable in themselves, but the risk occurs when they absorb into fabrics and are then exposed to naked flames or heat sources resulting in a fire that burns quickly and intensely and can cause serious injury or death.
Ian Barks, Central Hub Prevention Manager, said: “This new research confirms that even non-paraffin emollients can pose a serious fire safety risk. If you or members of your family use emollients, take extra care around naked flames and never smoke in bed. If you have a loved one who uses them, take the time to check that they are aware of the risk and are following the safety advice.”
To help protect yourself, follow these simple safety steps:
- Never smoke in bed.
- Do not smoke if there is any chance your clothing or dressings could be contaminated with these products.
- Do not cook with gas or electric hobs, if there is any chance your clothing or dressings could be contaminated with these products.
- Do not sit too close to any open fires, gas fires or halogen heaters.
- Wash your clothing and bedding daily at the highest temperature recommended by the fabric care instructions. This should reduce some of the contamination but will not remove it completely and so washing fabrics does not completely remove the fire risk.
For more information, visit rbfrs.co.uk/emollients.