The popularity of erotic fiction like the bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey could be to blame for the dozens of incidents of people being trapped in handcuffs firefighters have been called out to over the past three years, a brigade said today.
London Fire Brigade said it had turned out to 79 such incidents - and nine instances of men with rings stuck on their penises - and urged people "always keep the keys handy".
Third officer Dave Brown, said: "Some of the incidents our firefighters are called out to could be prevented with a little common sense. I don't know whether it's the Fifty Shades effect, but the number of incidents involving items like handcuffs seems to have gone up. I'm sure most people will be fifty shades of red by the time our crews arrive to free them."
The Brigade has attended more than 1,300 incidents involving people being trapped or stuck, often in everyday household items, since 2010. Each incident costs taxpayers at least £290, meaning they have cost at least £377,000.
In 2010/11 crews attended 416 incidents; in 2011/12 this rose to 441 incidents; and in 2012/13 this increased still further to 453. A total of 307 people were injured as a result of them.
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- Eighteen incidents involving children with their heads stuck in potties or toilet seats
- Five incidents involving people's hands being stuck in shredders
- Seventy nine incidents involving people being trapped in handcuffs
- Four incidents where people had their hands stuck in blenders
- Seventeen incidents involving children with their fingers stuck in toys
The Brigade said that in the past its crews have been called to a man whose penis was stuck in a toaster, and another with his genitals trapped in a vacuum cleaner.
Mr Brown added: "I'd like to remind everyone that 999 is an emergency number and should only be used as such. When firefighters are out attending to some of these avoidable incidents, someone else could be in real need of emergency assistance.
"If there's a genuine emergency, fire crews will of course attend and will be on the scene to help within minutes."
The Brigade said its crews are called to more than one incident every day involving someone trapped or stuck. People getting into a jam with rings, bracelets and watches are a common occurrence, while firefighters are also regularly called to assist people and children with their fingers trapped in electrical items like washing machines, sewing machines and heaters.
The most common type of callout for this type of incident is to people with rings stuck on their fingers, which accounted for almost 500 over the last three years. "Our advice is simple," said a Brigade spokesman. "If the ring doesn't fit, don't force it on. As well as being painful, you could end up wasting emergency service time if you have to call us out."
Despite the unusual nature of some of the incidents, the Brigade was keen to stress that people should always call 999 in the case of a genuine emergency.
The Brigade issued three tips to help people avoid getting into tricky situations:
- Common sense is needed - if it doesn't look safe, it probably isn't, so don't do it.
- If you use handcuffs, always keep the keys handy.
- Fingers and electrical appliances don't mix, especially those with blades.