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Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service are in full support of the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) campaign launched today to warn of the fire risks ...

Emollients fire safety



Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service are in full support of the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) campaign launched today to warn of the fire risks when using emollients. 


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.   


People who use emollients and smoke are at greater risk of setting themselves on fire, due to the flammable residue that may be left on clothes, bandages and bedding. Since 2010 there have 56 deaths confirmed as involving emollient in England. In addition, six of the 44 fire deaths reported in Scotland in 2018/19 involved emollient products. 


Talking about the issue, Prevention Lead for Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service, Tim Sargent said: “In Warwickshire, we have attended a number of fatal incidents in the last few years and any advice we can provide to assist in reducing these tragic incidents is welcomed. Emollient's can have huge benefits, but it is important people know about the potential risks associated when using them. 


To prevent life changing and fatal accidents, we want those who use emollients, those who care for people who do, and healthcare professionals to be aware of the potential fire risks involved, so that mitigating action can be taken, such as taking particular care near naked flames, especially smoking materials, cookers and heaters. 


“The risk of fire is greater when emollients are applied to large areas of the body or when dressings, clothing and soft furnishings become saturated with emollient which leaves a flammable residue on the fabric, that can then be easily ignited. To reduce the risk, ensure that bedding is washed regularly and that no heat source is left near clothing or bedding and that those using the creams do not smoke in bed. 


Warwickshire County Council’s Portfolio Holder for Community Fire Safety, Cllr Andy Crump added: 

”Our aim is always to prevent fires from happening in the first place and by raising awareness of the fire risks posed when using emollients, we are hoping to help reduce any potential fires that the use of emollients may cause. This is also true of the source of ignition, so making sure that residents don’t smoke in bed, especially after using emollients and that candles are not left close to flammable materials such as bedding or curtains.


"So please play your part and help us to keep Warwickshire communities safer by following the advice of the fire and rescue service. 


For more information or advice from the NFCC, visit 

Published: 29th July 2020