Users of emollient creams urged to protect themselves against fire

The warning comes after a fire in Selsey on Sunday night (14 May).


Release date: 16 May 2023

Firefighters are urging users of emollient creams to ensure they protect themselves against the risk of fire with some simple prevention tips.

The warning comes after firefighters from Selsey Fire Station responded to a fire in the town on Sunday (14 May), after initially being alerted to the smell of gas.

Upon arrival the crew carried out investigations using a thermal imaging camera and found that a pile of towels contaminated with emollient cream had caught alight, after being tumble dried and folded into a pile.

The chemicals from the highly flammable emollient cream reacted with the heat and triggered the ignition. Fortunately, there were no casualties. 

Emollient creams are moisturisers that play an important part of treating and preventing skin conditions including eczema, pressure sores, ulcers and psoriasis.

Anthony Wills, Station Manager for Selsey Fire Station, said: “Sometimes when materials and garments are folded and stacked after coming out of the tumble dryer, the heat cannot escape. As a result, the materials can reach temperatures that are high enough to ignite and start a fire.

“When you add highly flammable chemicals, such as emollient creams, into the mix – the outcomes can be devastating.

“It’s important that users of emollient creams understand the fire risks associated with these creams, and that they keep well away from fire, naked flames or heat sources. We would also recommend that emollient cream users change and wash their clothing, towels and bedding daily to prevent them becoming saturated with paraffin-based cream.

“When using the tumble drier, please always use the cooling cycle as this allows the heat to disperse, and then clothes can be stacked. These is a vital step – regardless of whether you use emollient creams or not.”

For more fire safety advice on using emollient creams and paraffin-based skin creams, please visit our website:

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