Cookies on the London Fire Brigade website

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. To find out more or to learn how to change your computer settings on our cookies page.

Last updated: 18/12/2018, 3:26 PM

Fire hazard warning to be added to moisturising creams following Brigade campaign

18/12/2018 15:15
Safety warnings

Highly flammable skin care products, that have contributed to a series of fatal fires will finally be label as a fire hazard following lobbying by us.

Our study earlier this year showed that 10 people have died in fires in the last three years (2015,2016 and 2017) where emollient creams have been noted as a contributory factor in the spread and growth of the fire. Following a campaign by the Brigade and the NFCC, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has today recommended that labeling and product information for certain emollient products include a warning about the fire hazard and clear advice not to smoke or go near naked flames.

Fire risks not widely known

Many commonly used moisturising products, or emollient skin products, contain ingredients like paraffin or petroleum and are highly flammable. These products are widely used by elderly people and those with mobility problems, and help with conditions like eczema, or to prevent bed sores. Emollients are an important and effective treatment for chronic dry skin conditions and people should continue to use these products but for far too long the fire risks associated with these products have been not widely known.

Assistant Commissioner Dan Daly said:

“This announcement will help spread awareness of the risk and make it easier for people to check the products they are using but as well as clear labeling in order to ensure no more lives are put at risk we urgently need carers, nurses, care homes to be educated and trained about the very real risk these creams pose. The creams soak into bedding and bed clothes and a dropped cigarette can be enough to set a person and their bedding alight and spread very quickly.

What steps can carers and healthcare professionals take to ensure people are safer?

• Speak to a GP and/or pharmacist about possible alternative products that may be more suitable for the patient’s circumstances
• Carers should discourage users of emollient products from smoking unsupervised, especially if they could become confused or fall asleep while smoking.
• Never smoke in bed
• It’s very difficult to wash the product out as it seeps into material so clothing and bed linen should be washed daily on a hot wash to prevent a potentially hazardous build up of paraffin or petroleum residue. If dressings are used with an emollient, they should be changed daily. Washing doesn’t always remove all of the product.
• Be aware of the risks for people who also have an airflow mattress. When the mattress comes into contact with a flame, the mattress can act as a blow torch, intensifying the fire.
• Seek a Home Fire Safety Visit from your local fire service. Firefighters can identify fire risks and offer advice on staying safe.
• Quitting smoking is the best option but switching to vaping poses a much reduced fire risk.
• Use fire retardant bedding and night clothes.