Dying for a smoke?

The chances are if you are a smoker you are fully aware of the health implications of smoking. Maybe now is not the right time for you to give up or, dare you even admit it, you don’t want to. Whatever the reason for you lighting up is, take some time to make sure your habit doesn’t cause a fire.

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CFOA and many UK fire and rescue services are supporting the national Fire Kills campaign and asking people to ‘Put it out. Right out’.

One third of households have a smoker living in them and these households are one and a half times more likely to suffer a fire than a non-smoking household.

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Figures for 2013-2014 show 38% of all deaths in fires in the home were caused by smokers’ materials. To reduce the number of people dying in accidental house fires, fire and rescue services need smokers to take additional precautions to protect their homes and families.

Advice to reduce the risk of smoking related fires

  • Consider smoking outside or restricting the areas of the house you smoke in
  • Make sure you have working smoke alarms. Test them once a week and make sure you have enough alarms for your home
  • Make sure you use a proper ashtray. It should be solid and not easily knocked over
  • Empty ashtrays regularly.  Make sure any butts and ashes are cold – pop a bit of water in and empty into a suitable bin
  • A small amount of water in the bottom of a clean ashtray is a simple way of helping to make sure cigarettes are properly out
  • Never leave a cigarette or cigar burning whilst you see to something else, they can easily fall and set fire to something
  • Avoid smoking in bed. If you fall asleep with a lit cigarette the proximity of the fire makes escape difficult
  • Be careful if you have been taking drugs – recreational or prescription – or drinking alcohol. Not always easy to make sure your cigarette is stubbed out and you are less likely to hear your smoke alarm
  • Keep lighters and matches safe and away from children

Fire and rescue services throughout the UK will be asking smokers to heed this advice throughout April and make some small changes to their smoking behaviour to reduce the risk of fire.

Unfortunately for some services this has been in response to an upward trend in such incidents. West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) is one such service.  11 deaths in 2015 in West Yorkshire were caused by fires started by smoking related materials.

West Yorkshire’s area manager for fire safety, Ian Bitcon said: “Last year we saw a tragic and concerning spike in the number of fatal fires caused by smoking materials so we are very eager to make sure the national Fire Kills campaign hits home within West Yorkshire.”

Local fire and rescue services can offer ‘Safe and Well’ visits which can help identify risks and signpost people to smoking cessation services, if they wish.  It is worth speaking to older friends or relatives about the safety messages and help fire services can give particularly if they do not easily have access to the internet.

Look out for the #FireKills and #PutItOut.Right out on twitter and pass the safety messages on. Take a look at your own fire and rescue services webpages for useful advice.