February 17, 2015 12:40 PM

The new R-rated erotica Fifty Shades of Grey, based on E L James’s novels, has dominated the box office. But what happens when its subject matter finds its way into real life?

The steamy love story stars Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan in some compromising sex positions that feature all kinds of kinky objects ranging from blindfolds to ropes. But according to research and data, it’s not always as smooth sailing as it may appear on the silver screen.

Research dating back to 1991 from the Consumer Product Safety Commission reveals that men and women, young and old, are experimenting sexually, with sometimes less than desirable outcomes. According to CPSC data, the number of Americans who have headed to the emergency room with sex-toy-related debacles has just about doubled since 2007.

And, per the Washington Post, the median demographic to fall victim to a sex-toy-related injury is a 44-year-old male, while the median female age hovers around 30.

It looks like injuries are plentiful across the pond as well.

The London Fire Brigade (LFB) added a little insult to injury during opening weekend of the BDSM-infused drama by launching a Twitter campaign using the hashtag #FiftyShadesOfRed. In order to promote sex safety tips, The Brigade Tweeted out sex-related emergency calls that they received, along with some details of the objects involved.

Handcuffs, toilets, plastic water bottles, you name it. One Tweet read: “A woman rang after her husband was locked in a titanium chastity belt. Keep those keys handy! #fiftyshadesofred”

Another NSFW Tweet said: “A man putting his tackle in a vacuum was just one of our #FiftyShadesofRed jobs #BritishSexPositions #prayforHenry.”

It remains unknown if the call-outs are really direct products of the book or film releases, May 2011 and February 2015, respectively. But a couple of stateside experts confirmed to PEOPLE that accidents can – and do – happen.

Accident-Prone?

“I know somebody who was tied up in such a way that it caused some nerve damage,” says Allena Gabosch, development director of the Center for Sex Positive Culture in the state of Washington. The sex educator has also come across someone who cut himself with a knife.

But according to Gabosch, the truly dangerous sides of these sexual escapades aren’t as common as you’d think. And when accidents do occur, they’re typically due to “equipment malfunctions,” she says. “The most you’re going to see is some contusions and some bruising, which are signs we had a good time.”

BDSM is a subject that may take some practice, studying and risk assessment. Gabosch explains that safe words – just as the book and movie explore – and group settings are ways to ensure safety first.

“Almost every major city has classes to teach you how to play safely,” she says. Gabosch also ensures that her Seattle-based sex community center hosts monitored events where there is someone keeping an eye on what’s going on in the room.

“One of the things about BDSM is that I might want to hurt you, but I don’t want to harm you,” she says.

Will Fredericks, a real-life dominant and sex and intimacy coach from Seattle, says it’s important to work within a comfort zone and evaluate the situation ahead of time.

“I try to anticipate what could go wrong. That gives me an opportunity to handle the situation,” he says. “I don’t want the person I’m with to be hurt. I’m hoping these things will be part of an ongoing relationship.”

And what should you always avoid when getting down and dirty? BDSM-ing under the influence. “Usually where things go wrong is when there’s drugs and alcohol involved, when people lose track of what they’re doing,” he says.

With reporting by TARA FOWLER

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