AS temperatures in parts of the North-East rose above 30c this week, drivers were warned against keeping hand gels in their cars.

Officials including NHS Property Services and CE Safety both warned against the potential fire hazards of storing alcohol-based sanitiser in hot cars.

It had been claimed that rising temperatures can cause the alcohol in the sanitisers to evaporate, releasing flammable vapours.

These vapours can then reach a flashpoint, at which they then trigger fires after igniting with fires.

But what is the likelihood of this happening? 

The National Fire Chiefs Council has since refuted reports that sanitiser in vehicles can pose a fire risk as it confirmed there had been no such cases in the UK.

Last night, Roy Wilsher, Chair of the NFCC said: "We want to reassure people that this product will not combust if left in a car - even on the hottest day. For hand sanitiser to cause a fire it would need to come into contact with a spark. 

"Hand sanitiser is very important in the fight against the spread of COVID-19, therefore it is is essential we debunk this myth."

Mr Wilsher said it was advising drivers to ensure their hand sanitisers were kept out of direct sunlight in places such as the glove box.

He said: "This will ensure the contents do not deteriorate and means bottles cannot be magnified by the sun. Sanitiser should also be kept away from naked flame."

Mr Wilsher said NHS Property Services had now retracted the statement.

What the NHS originally said

Yesterday, NHS Property Services said it had warned its front line staff against keeping hand sanitiser in vehicles during this spell of hot weather.

The statement said: "At the end of May, NHS Property Services (NHSPS) received notifications from safety officers at Unison, who raised media reports from US Fire Authorities that hand sanitisers were catching fire in vehicles.

"At NHSPS we take our duty of care toward our frontline staff very seriously. As such, in response to the notification we received, our health and safety team issued an internal message to highlight the potential risks associated with hand sanitisers in vehicles.

"With the hot summer approaching, there was concern for our facilities management staff who would be transporting this material.

"This decision to raise awareness across colleagues was made in good faith. It is now our understanding that the risks associated with hand sanitisers in vehicles only become apparent when in contact with a spark. We will be issuing a formal alert to our frontline teams to clarify this situation."