Smoking is not only bad for your health, it can also cause fires that put lives at risk.
That is why Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) will be supporting the national No Smoking Day on Wednesday 13 March.
There were 37 smoking-related fire incidents in Cheshire homes last year and there were 158 between the five years from 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2018.
Statistics also show that smoking is the biggest cause of accidental fires in the home that result in people dying, often because of careless behaviour such as lighting up in bed or not taking care after drinking alcohol.
As part of No Smoking Day, an annual health awareness initiative aiming to help people kick the habit, CFRS is offering advice on preventing smoking-related fires at home.
Station Manager Lee McGarity, who is on the Prevention team at CFRS, said: “It is vital that people understand how dangerous smoking is, especially within your home.
“Smoking can start a fire that can put you and your loved ones’ lives at risk and destroy your home and your worldly possessions.
“Tobacco is designed to stay lit, so cigarettes, cigars and pipes can easily start an accidental fire, especially if you are sleepy or have been drinking alcohol.”
A third of all accidental fires in UK homes were caused by smoking materials in 2016-17.
The majority of such fires start in the living room, followed by the bedroom.
Station Manager McGarity added: “Quitting smoking altogether is obviously the best way to remove the risk of having a smoking-related fire.
“No Smoking Day has been running since 1984 to help people to quit smoking, but many members of society are reluctant to do that.
“In the lead up to No Smoking Day, we would like to remind those people of the importance of safe disposal of smoking products.
“Our message at Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service is if you aren’t ready to give up smoking, make sure that you take precautions to prevent a fire and that you put your cigarettes, cigars and pipes out, right out.”
CFRS’ top tips for preventing a smoking-related fire at home are:
- Always ensure that cigarettes, cigars and pipes are properly extinguished
- Never smoke in bed (if you need to lie down, do not light up – you could doze off and set your bed on fire)
- Tap your ash into an ashtray, never a wastebasket containing other rubbish
- Make sure that your ashtray is heavy and cannot tip over easily and that it is made of a material which will not burn
- Do not let ash or cigarette or cigar ends build up in your ashtray
- Never leave a lit cigarette or cigar lying around – they can easily overbalance as they burn down and start a fire
- Take extra care if you smoke when you are tired, are taking prescription drugs or if you have been drinking alcohol – it is very easy to fall asleep while your cigarette, cigar or pipe is still burning
- Never smoke when under the influence of illegal drugs
- Always keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children.
Residents are also advised to ensure that they have a working smoke alarm fitted on every level of their home and to test them regularly.
A working smoke alarm can buy you valuable time to get out, stay out and call 999 in the event of a fire.
Smoke alarms should conform to British Standard BS EN14604:2005 and carry the well-known Kitemark.
CFRS will fit free smoke alarms, if needed, during Safe and Well visits for people who are aged over 65 and for those who are referred to the service by partner agencies because they are considered to be at a particular risk.
Safe and Well visits incorporate traditional fire safety information and also offer advice on slips, trips and falls prevention and address winter warmth safety issues.
The free visits also offer screenings for atrial fibrillation, a heart condition that can cause strokes, as well as support to those who wish to stop smoking or taking drugs or reduce their alcohol consumption.
To find out more about smoke alarms and Safe and Well visits go online at www.cheshirefire.gov.uk.