Flammable skin creams linked to deaths

As part of Carers Week the London Fire Brigade has issued an important warning regarding the dangers posed by flammable skin creams. Many widely available, commonly used skin moisturisers contain paraffin and petroleum bases which can easily catch fire and turn people “into human wicks”. Fifteen Londoners have died in the last three years when flammable creams spread flames across bedsheets and clothing.

This is a shocking statistic but unfortunately these accidents do happen and when they do they can have horrifying consequences.

Carers are being urged to stop using these dangerous creams on elderly people particularly if they are smokers.  The paraffin and petroleum based emollient creams are easily transferred to clothing and sheets. If a cigarette or match is then dropped there is a very high risk they will catch fire. The creams cause the fire to spread quickly and can have horrific consequences.

Dan Daly, Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, said: “It’s a horrific reality but if you’re wearing creams with flammable ingredients and you accidently drop a cigarette or a match, you are literally setting yourself on fire.  Dropping cigarettes or matches onto clothing is dangerous but when flammable creams are involved, this really increases the chance of a fire starting and becoming much more intense.

“The people most vulnerable to fires are older people, and those with mobility problems, and it’s exactly these people who tend to rely on emollient creams. If they are smokers too, it’s a deadly combination.”

Laura McGee, Solicitor with NewLaw Scotland has successfully represented a client who sustained burn injuries as a result of this type of accident. She said: “Having seen the devastating effects this kind of accident has had on clients in the past I can only echo the London Fire Brigade’s warning.  Elderly people, their families and their carers, should be extremely wary of the skin moisturisers they are using. I would urge people, particularly smokers, to stop using these types of flammable skin creams.”

This week is Carers Week in the UK. From 12 to 18 June organisations, individuals and groups are taking part in events throughout the UK to raise awareness of the issues affecting carers and celebrate the essential contribution made by the 6.5 million carers in the UK.

NewLaw Scotland is committed to assisting carers and the vulnerable people they care for.  As part of Carers Week we are offering care providers and those they assist free legal advice in relation to any accident claim and discounted rates on wills, powers of attorney and many other legal services. If you are interested please contact us on 0333 003 0655 and quote “Carers Discount”. 


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