London Fire Brigade

Number of people trapped in objects like handcuffs and toilet seat rises

29 July 2013

The London Fire Brigade said today that the number of incidents involving people being stuck or trapped in objects like handcuffs and toilet seats has risen over the last three years. The new figures have prompted calls from fire chiefs for people to think carefully before dialling 999.

The Brigade has attended over 1,300 incidents involving people being trapped or stuck, often in everyday household items, since 2010. The Brigade said that each incident costs taxpayers at least £290, meaning the incidents have cost at least £377,000.

In 2010/11 crews attended 416 incidents; in 2011/12 this rose to 441 incidents; and in 2012/13 this shot up to 453. A total of 307 people were injured as a result of these incidents.

In the last three years the capital’s fire crews have been called out to:

  • 18  incidents involving children with their heads stuck in potties or toilet seats
  • Five incidents involving people’s hands being stuck in shredders
  • 79 incidents involving people being trapped in handcuffs
  • Nine instances of men with rings stuck on their penises.
  • Four incidents where people had their hands stuck in blenders
  • 17 incidents involving children with their fingers stuck in toys, including one with lego stuck on his finger

The Brigade said that in the past its crews have been called to a man whose penis was stuck in a toaster, and another with his manhood trapped in a vacuum cleaner.

Despite the unusual nature of some of the incidents, the Brigade was keen to stress that people should always call 999 in the case of a genuine emergency.

 

Third Officer, Dave Brown, said:

“Some of the incidents our firefighters are called out could be prevented with a little common sense. I don’t know whether it’s the Fifty Shades effect, but the number of incidents involving items like handcuffs seems to have gone up. I’m sure most people will be Fifty Shades of red by the time our crews arrive to free them.

“I’d like to remind everyone that 999 is an emergency number and should only be used as such. When firefighters are out attending to some of these avoidable  incidents, someone else could be in real need of emergency assistance.

“If there’s a genuine emergency, fire crews will of course attend and will be on the scene to help within minutes.”

The Brigade said its crews are called to more than one incident every day involving someone trapped or stuck. People getting into a jam with rings, bracelets and watches are a common occurrence, while firefighters are also regularly called to assist people and children with their fingers trapped in electrical items like washing machines, sewing machines and heaters.

The most common type of call out for this type of incident is to people with rings stuck on their fingers, which accounted for almost 500 call outs over the last three years. “Our advice is simple,” said a Brigade spokesperson, “If the ring doesn’t fit, don’t force it on. As well as being painful, you could end up wasting emergency service time if you have to call us out.”

The Brigade issued three top tips to help people avoid getting into tricky situations:

  • Common sense is needed – if it doesn’t look safe, it probably isn’t, so don’t do it!
  • If you use handcuffs, always keep the keys handy
  • Fingers and electrical appliances don’t mix, especially those with blades

ENDS

Notes to editors

In the past, the Brigade has been called out to:

  • A man with his penis stuck in a toaster
  • A man with his arm stuck in a portaloo
  • A child with its hand trapped in a sweet machine
  • A child with its head trapped in an ironing board
  • An adult stuck in a child’s toy car
  • A child with its head stuck in a massage chair
  • A child with its foot stuck in a  brass vase
  • Someone with a test tube stuck on their finger
  • A child with a tambourine stuck on its head
  • A man with a sewing machine needle stuck in his finger