Words: Stuart Glover, Marketing Manager, De-Wipe Ltd
The firefighters’ mantra ‘shower within the hour’ is one of the best practices for preventing firefighter cancer. Without a mandatory shower back at the station, firefighters not only run the risk of harmful carcinogenic toxins and impurities found in soot and smoke absorbing through their skin, hair and scalp, but also of spreading the contamination on further and even into their homes.
Ask yourself: have you ever taken your shower within the hour but still gone home smelling of smoke? Smoke is more than an unpleasant odour; it contains harmful contaminants. It’s as simple as that. For this reason, showers should be an integral part of every fire and rescue service’s post fire decontamination procedure. However, is the everyday shampoo and shower gel used by firefighters effective in removing hazardous contaminants?
Harmful pollutants cling onto the surface of hair after exposure to smoke. Each time you touch your hair, you transfer the pollution to your fingers. This can then be absorbed through the skin or can enter the body orally. Residual pollution in the hair can even be inhaled via fumes that rise out from hair. Pollutants will also contaminate the surfaces you touch, such as your steering wheel on the drive home or your bed when you go to sleep; the list goes on. Plainly, the issues with smelling of smoke are more than skin deep.
Similar to the company’s findings in its extensive research into firefighters’ use of after fire wipes over baby wipes, De-Wipe found a lack of understanding between the benefits of using a hair and body wash scientifically formulated to eliminate carcinogenic toxins over washing with normal shampoo or shower gel designed for general hygiene. Perhaps more disappointing is the fact alternative unfounded solutions with the sole purpose of reducing the smell of smoke appear commonplace. For instance, adding vinegar to your shower gel appears a favourite solution.
Our question is this: should fire and rescue services prioritise solutions to reduce the smell of smoke while ignoring the need to remove the toxic contaminants in their hair and bodies? Is there a healthier and more effective solution that will fit into their existing after-fire decontamination procedures?
An after-fire decontamination procedure looks like this: wipe yourself with an after-fire decontamination wipe first – skin, face, eyes, nose, ears, hands, arms; every part of the body exposed to fire must be decontaminated on-scene; bag your kit; use equipment wipes to clean equipment, PPE and kit, plus the cab, before returning to station; thoroughly cleanse equipment once returned; finally, shower within an hour of leaving the scene using firefighter hair and body wash.
So why wash with scientifically formulated firefighter hair and body wash? Everyday shampoo and shower gel is designed to leave you feeling clean and fresh. However – similar to using baby wipes instead of after-fire wipes – it is well-established that harmful carcinogens cannot be removed using standard products; they cling onto hair and skin so as you’re only appearing to be clean.
Aware of the connection between exposure to these chemicals and cancer, De-Wipe worked with world leading toxicology professors at Manchester Metropolitan University to develop the UK’s first and only after-fire decontamination wipe that is scientifically proven to remove these most harmful of toxins produced in fire from skin, clothing and equipment. The company’s after-fire wipe draws contaminants away from surfaces like a magnet, trapping them permanently inside before they can enter the body.
De-Wipe’s new Hair & Body Wash is formulated to rinse carcinogenic toxins in soot and smoke from your hair, scalp and body, leaving you feeling clean, invigorated and odour-free. Going home smelling clean is great but you’ll also be safe in the knowledge you’ve washed away the risk before these toxins have had chance to enter your body or be taken home.
So, ask yourself again: have you ever taken your shower within the hour but still gone home smelling of smoke? Smoke contains contaminants that must be washed off to ensure an effective after fire decontamination procedure.