how to avoid accidental fires caused by smoking

By Hannah Cheshire

Today (March 11th) marks No Smoking Day in the UK, an annual health awareness day with the intention of encouraging and helping smokers to quit. We are not going to go in to the various health issues that can arise from smoking, but it has inspired us to look into the fire related dangers that can arise from smoking, so here goes….

According to Home Office Statistics, there were 37,740 house fires in 2017/18 and 398 fire-related deaths. Smokers materials were reported as being one of the most common causes of accidental house fires along with things such as cooking and electrical appliances. Cigarettes burn at extremely high temperatures and are designed to remain alight making them very dangerous. In 2011 the government published a news story stating that “Habits such as smoking whilst drinking alcohol in the home or lighting up in bed are responsible for one in three (36 per cent) of all accidental house fires resulting in deaths.”

Apart from the obvious route of quitting smoking, being sensible about the lighting up and disposal of cigarettes are the best ways to prevent accidental fires caused by smoking, it is also best practise to smoke outside. However, as careful as may be fires can still happen, so in order to give you a higher rate of survival it is vital to install and regularly test smoke alarms which should be located on every level of the home.

Precautionary smoking tips:

  • Make sure your cigarette is fully extinguished
  • Fit a smoke alarm and test it weekly!
  • Never smoke in bed and take extra care when tired. It’s very easy to fall asleep while your cigarette is still burning and set furniture alight
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol when smoking. It’s easy to lose your concentration when using drugs or drinking alcohol which combined with cigarettes could become even more dangerous
  • Never leave lit cigarettes, cigars or pipes unattended or balance them on the edge of an ashtray – they can easily overbalance as they burn away
  • Use a proper, heavy ashtray that can’t tip over easily and is made of a material that won’t burn
  • Always empty ashtrays carefully, making sure that smoking materials are out, cold and preferably wet them before throwing into an appropriate bin (not a wastepaper basket)
  • Keep matches and lighters out of children’s reach at all times
  • Avoid smoking if you use healthcare equipment like medical oxygen or paraffin based emollient creams

e-cigarettes also have dangers associated with them mainly due to the use of rechargeable batteries including lithium-ion batteries which have been known to cause fires in the past due to things such as damage and overcharging. As with any electrical item, when purchasing e-cigarettes you should ensure that the chargers comply with UK regulations and are marked with the following:

  • CE Mark
  • The name or trademark of the manufacturer or responsible supplier.
  • Unique identifier e.g. model, type, batch/serial number.
  • The rated voltage(s), power/current and frequency.

Hannah Cheshire | Head of Marketing

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