Scottish Fire and Rescue Warning: Paraffin-based emollients fire hazard

Created: 07/07/2017, Updated: 10/07/2017

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service have issued the following warning regarding paraffin-based emollients.

When patients/service users are being treated with a paraffin-based emollient product that is covered by a dressing or clothing, there is a danger that smoking or using a naked flame could cause dressings or clothing to catch fire. The risk is greater when these preparations are applied to large areas of the body, or when dressings, clothing or bedding become soaked with emollient.

Examples of paraffin-based emollients include:

  • White soft paraffin

  • White soft paraffin plus 50% liquid paraffin

  • Emulsifying ointment

Reminder for Healthcare Professionals/Care Staff

Advise patients/service users:

  • Not to smoke

  • Not to use naked flames (or be near people who are smoking or using naked flames)

  • Not to go near anything that may cause a fire while emollients are in contact with their medical dressings or clothing

  • Change patient clothing and bedding regularly—preferably daily—because emollients soak into fabric and can become a fire hazard

If smoking is unavoidable due to the person’s physical or memory impairment you may wish to consider asking their GP to prescribe an alternative treatment.

From Fife Voluntary Action Bulletin 13 July 2017 Opens a MS Word document containing information and links