New video highlights the potential fire hazard with paraffin-based skin products

New video highlights the potential fire hazard with paraffin-based skin products

April 6, 2018

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, with support from PSNC’s Yorkshire Regional Representative, David Broome, and other members of Community Pharmacy West Yorkshire, has produced a YouTube video aimed at healthcare professionals and carers, to highlight the potential fire hazards associated with paraffin-based skin products. The video summarises the contents of training event presentations provided by the Fire and Rescue Service team and was guided by Community Pharmacy West Yorkshire.

The video features two family members of a patient who tragically died in a house fire in 2015. It was later found that the speed and intensity of the fire was exacerbated by a paraffin-based skin emollient the patient was prescribed and using at the time.

Key messages in the video for healthcare professionals are:

  • Patients who smoke should be offered practical help, advice and continued support to stop smoking.

  • On the first occasion the paraffin-based product is prescribed, dispensed or administered, patients and/or carers should be given appropriate counselling, and a record kept confirming that such advice was given. 

  • A check should be made on subsequent occasions that the advice has been received previously and understood.

  • An alternative skin treatment should be considered where people smoke, and/or have a condition which places them at increased risk of fire such as memory loss, poor concentration or drowsiness.

  • Washing fabrics at the highest temperature possible as per care instructions will reduce the paraffin contamination but not remove it.

  • Patients should be encouraged to share information about their treatment and any advice they’ve received with their relatives and/or carers.

  • When placing dispensing labels on products, take care not to cover fire safety warnings on packaging of paraffin-based skin products.

Commenting on the video, PSNC’s Yorkshire Regional Representative, David Broome said:

“Having seen the evidence from the Fire and Rescue Service, it completely changed my view on emollient creams. Many healthcare professionals are aware of the dangers associated with paraffin-based ointments, but as the Fire and Rescue Service team highlighted, there is less awareness of the risks associated with any liquid paraffin-based products which include many commonly dispensed creams.

I hope that all pharmacy teams watch the video and benefit from the useful advice provided.”

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