Help is here to reduce smoking fire risk

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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?

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:

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 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
  • 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
  • Never leave lit cigarettes, cigars or pipes 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
  • Make an attempt to quit using NHS support if you need it. If you do not want to quit, consider vaping

HWFRS Community Risk manager Emma Roberts said: “Fires ignited by cigarettes or smoking materials result in ore 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 weekly. Working smoke alarms can give you the extra time you need to escape if the worst should happen.”

Between 1 Jan 2011 and 31 Dec 2020 there were 257 accidental fires caused by smoking materials in the counties of Herefordshire and Worcestershire. The most common cause was Careless handling – due to careless disposal (68.9%) followed by Careless handling – due to sleep or unconsciousness (12.8%).

The living room and bedroom were the most common place for accidental fires caused by smoking materials to occur (both 22.2%).