With a steady decline in the number of smokers in England, the overall number of fires triggered by cigarettes is small, but with over a third of all fire deaths in the country attributed to cigarettes the proportion of fatalities is staggering.
A working smoke alarm means you are more than twice as likely to survive an accidental house fire.
Sheila Pendlesbury sadly lost her grandson Shaun in house fire triggered by a cigarette. She said:
"Shaun was only 27 year old when he died. He had a daughter and a bright future ahead of him. His loss is something we as a family will have to live with. But it hurts enormously to know something as basic, as a working smoking alarm could have alerted him to the fire and possibly saved his life."
The Government’s Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser Sir Ken Knight said:
"Without an early alarm system in place you could lose valuable escape time in a fire. Just two to three breaths of toxic smoke can render a person unconscious. As well as the health dangers, people need to be aware of the deadly risks of smoking in the home and how smoking materials can very quickly and easily lead to a fire. When extinguishing cigarettes smokers must make sure they ‘put it out, right out’ and if possible refrain from smoking in the home at all."
For smokers not ready to kick the habit it is important to follow these simple precautions to prevent a fire at home:
•put it out, right out! Make sure your cigarette is fully extinguished
•fit a smoke alarm and test it weekly. A working smoke alarm can buy you valuable time to get out, stay out and call 999
•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
•avoid drugs and alcohol when smoking. It’s easy to lose your concentration when using any sort of drugs or drinking alcohol, combined with cigarettes and this could be lethal
•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.
For further information on fire safety visit www.direct.gov.uk/firekills
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