Cambs Fire & Rescue warning over use of emollient creams after a number of deaths

Fire Warning from Cambs Fire & Rescue and NHS England
Fire Warning from Cambs Fire & Rescue and NHS England

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service is issuing safety advice to raise awareness of the risks of using paraffin based emollient creams, after it has been linked to fire deaths across England.

Many well-known and commonly used moisturising creams contain paraffin and petroleum bases which could easily ignite near a naked flame or cigarette.

The creams can be readily bought from any supermarkets or pharmacies, and are often used to treat skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis. As a result, sufferers often wear the cream over large areas of their skin, which can increase their risk of harm.

The cream soaks into clothes, dressings, bedding and even some mattresses, which can become extremely flammable. The risk is particularly high for those who smoke, as if a cigarette is dropped on clothing or bedding soaked with the cream, the spread of fire will be accelerated.

To reduce the risk of fire, clothes, especially nightwear, and bedding should be washed at high temperatures. Anyone using these types of creams is also encouraged to switch to non-flamable brands. In addition, it is advisable to avoid leaving electric blankets switched on overnight.

Head of Community Safety, Group Commander Kevin Napier, said: “Paraffin based emollient creams can cause clothes, bandaging and fabrics to become extremely flammable and dangerous if the residue of the cream isn’t thoroughly washed out after wearing.

“Due to the content of the cream it requires extremely thorough washing at higher temperatures to remove residue and prevent build up over time.

“If you do smoke, ensure that any smoking materials are fully extinguished, preferably in a metal container, and don’t smoke while you are in bed.

“Older people and those with mobility problems are among the most at risk of fires in the home, so it’s important that they are aware of the dangers, along with their family, friends and carers.”