If you are a smoker, or know someone who is, you will have heard many reasons why you should consider quitting. But have you ever considered the fire risk associated with smoking? And what are you doing to reduce that risk?
Smoking is one of the biggest causes of death and illness in the UK. Accidental fires started by cigarettes and other smoking materials still kill more people than any other type of fire.
In Herefordshire and Worcestershire, between 1 Jan 2012 and 31 Dec 2021, 256 accidental fires were caused by smoking materials.
The most common cause was careless handling when disposing of them, involving 161 incidents, as well as another 31 incidents that took place when asleep or unconscious. Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service is therefore reminding smokers to always be vigilant when smoking or disposing of smoking materials.
Without a doubt, quitting is the best way to remove the fire risk. There is plenty of help available to you should you want to make an attempt at putting down your cigarettes and lighters for good. The NHS has many stop smoking services, which are free, friendly and can massively boost your chances. More information can be found here: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/quit-smoking/nhs-stop-smoking-services-help-you-quit/
If you are not interested in giving up, or while you are giving up, you should bear in mind the fire risk associated with smoking and take note of the simple steps you can take to reduce the chances of your smoking materials leading to a fire - fires caused by smoking products kills more people than fires caused by any other item.
Not smoking while tired, using a proper and secure ashtray and stubbing them out properly can greatly reduce the risk of an accidental fire breaking out.
To help you keep safe, Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service is therefore reminding smokers to 'Put it Out, Right Out' whenever they light up; to install smoke alarms on every level of the home; and, to test them regularly. Without a working smoke alarm, you are at least eight times more likely to die in an accidental fire in the home.
These simple steps can help prevent a cigarette fire in the home:
- Never smoke in bed. Take care when you’re tired – it’s very easy to fall asleep while your cigarette is still burning and set furniture alight
- Never smoke when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If your lit cigarette starts a fire you could be less able to escape.
- Put it out, right out! Make sure your cigarette is fully extinguished
- Never leave lit cigarettes, or other smoking materials unattended – they can easily overbalance as they burn down.
- Use a proper, heavy ashtray that can’t tip over easily and is made of a material that won’t burn.
- It's safer to smoke outside, but make sure cigarettes are put right out and disposed of properly.
- Never smoke if you use healthcare equipment like medical oxygen or an air flow pressure relief mattress. If you use paraffin-based emollient creams, ask for non-flammable alternatives instead. If you or someone else you care for continues to smoke, then consider additional safety measures such as fire retardant bedding or nightwear.
- A lot of people make the switch from smoking to vaping, but even vaping has fire safety risks - the risks around vaping tend to come from counterfeit or faulty products, and poor charging practices
- Make an attempt to quit using NHS support if you need it. If you do not want to quit, consider vaping.
- Fit a smoke alarm and test it at least monthly. A working smoke alarm can buy you valuable time to get out, stay out and call 999.
Emma Roberts, Head of Prevention at HWFRS, said:
"Fires ignited by cigarettes or smoking materials result in more fatalities than any other fire. Despite a fall in the overall number of fires caused by these products, it's still the biggest cause of accidental fires in the home across the country.
"Every smoker should be aware of the risks they take every time they light up - and drop the habit of smoking indoors, especially in bed, or under the influence of alcohol. The risk of falling asleep before you 'put it out, right out' is just too great.
"Make sure you have working smoke alarms on every level of your home and test them at least monthly. Working smoke alarms can give you the extra time you need to escape if the worst should happen."