Specialist health equipment
If you are a health professional or care for someone who uses specialist healthcare equipment, it is important to be aware of the fire risks. The following equipment may increase the spread and intensity of a fire.
- Home oxygen therapy.
- Dynamic airflow pressure relieving mattresses.
- Incontinence pads.
Here you’ll find our fire safety advice on these items. There is a separate page for emollient creams – and if you care for a person who is a smoker, or someone who is a hoarder.
Protect the people you care for by referring them for a home safety visit. We can provide specialist equipment free of charge and help them to plan their escape in the event of a fire.
Oxygen is a combustible gas and can result in explosion and risk of fire when not used properly. If someone you care for is using supplemental oxygen at home, it is vital you put in place safety mechanisms.
Safety tips when using oxygen
- Be careful where you store it. Oxygen cylinders must be stored in an upright position safely out of direct sunlight in a well-ventilated area that is dry and away from any heat sources. The storage area should not be used to store paint, oil, grease or any domestic heating gases or other combustible materials.
- Smoke detectors. We recommend that each floor of your home has a working smoke alarm and that they are tested at least once a month.
- Keep the area well ventilated. Keep internal doors open when using oxygen. Gases can build up and concentrate in a closed room or a confined space but can easily be dispersed in a well-ventilated room.
- Never smoke. Never smoke or let anyone else smoke near you while you are using your oxygen. If you must smoke, smoke outside and never smoke in bed.
- Good practice:
- turn off your oxygen supply when you have finished using it
- never use oxygen equipment near open fires or naked flames
- never cook whilst using your oxygen
- never use any electrical appliances such as electric razors or hairdryers whilst using your oxygen
- avoid using barrier medications/creams that contain emollients, petroleum, oil or paraffin. Ask your pharmacist or care provider to recommend suitable non-flammable alternatives
- never use aerosol sprays such as deodorant or hairspray when using oxygen
- in the event of a fire, call 999 and inform the operator that you have oxygen on your premises.
Dynamic airflow pressure relieving mattresses (and overlays)
These are provided for the prevention and treatment of pressure ulcers (bedsores) to people who spend extended periods of time in bed or are bedbound due to illness or impaired mobility.
The mattress is filled with air by a pump that adjusts pressure according to the patient’s needs.
When punctured by a heat source such as a match the escaping airflow can cause a fire to spread rapidly. The emergency battery backup may continue to pump air which can cause the fire to burn longer.
Safety tips when using an airflow mattress
- Never smoke near an airflow mattress, or let the person you care for smoke in bed.
- Keep ignition sources (candles, incense sticks or oil burner) away from airflow mattresses.
- Never use an electric blanket on an airflow mattress.
- Ensure that electrical equipment is well maintained and kept at a safe distance from airflow mattresses.
- Keep fires and heaters away from airflow mattresses.
- Never place hot items like hairdryers or hair straighteners on airflow mattresses.
Incontinence pads and pants help people live at home with more dignity. However, these products are often supplied in large quantities. They can be bulky and difficult to store, can catch fire and will add fuel to a developing fire.
- Always store incontinence products away from heat sources such as heaters, candles, chargers or anywhere else that they are likely to be subject to heat or flame.
- Try not to store the supplies all in one place – ideally not next to the person’s bed or chair.