Britain’s biggest fire brigade have put face creams on their list of potential fire hazards because users could go up in flames if they smoke after putting it on.
Skincare creams have been classified as a fire hazard after they contributed to the deaths of ten people in three years.
Many skin and moisturising products are made of highly flammable ingredients such as paraffin or petroleum.
The emollient creams are often used by elderly people and people with mobility problems to prevent bedsores, as well as people with skin conditions such as eczema.
But a study by the London Fire Brigade identified ten people had died in fires where the products contributed to the flames spreading, between 2015 and 2017.
A fire spokesman said: “Following a campaign by the Brigade and the National Fire Chiefs Council, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has today recommended that labelling 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.”
Brigade Assistant Commissioner Dan Daly added: “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 labelling 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.”
Firefighters urged carers and healthcare professionals to ensure their patients are safe when using the creams.
They suggested asking a GP if there are alternative less flammable products; discouraging users from using them while smoking unsupervised; never let them smoke in bed; and using fire retardant bedding and night clothes.
The spokesman added: “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.”
By Berny Torre
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