Herts fire chief warns: Smoking kills in more ways than one, take steps to protect yourself

Stop smoking advice team will be in Wisbech on Sunday May 31

Stop smoking advice team will be in Wisbech on Sunday May 31 - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The warning on the packet has been marking our card for years – smoking is so bad for our general health that it can end up killing us.

But firefighters are pressing home the message that the habit can be deadly in more ways than one – they warn smoking is the biggest contributory factor to fire deaths.

They’ve pinpointed it as the single biggest factor in accidental fires in the home – a third of all deaths are caused by cigarettes, often because of careless behaviour such as smoking in bed or not taking care after drinking alcohol.

And when smokers fall asleep with a lit cigarette in hand, their proximity to the resulting fire seriously cuts their chance of making an escape.

Herts County Council’s fire and rescue service is reminding smokers to ‘put it out, right out’ whenever they light up.


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They also advise everyone to fit smoke alarms on every level of the home and to test them on the first of every month.

Without a working smoke alarm you are at least four times more likely to die in an accidental fire in the home.

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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 regularly. 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.

Fire chief Roy Wilsher said: “Every six days, someone in the UK dies from a fire caused by cigarettes or smoking materials.

“Despite a fall in the overall number of fires caused by these products, it’s still the biggest killer in accidental fires in the home across the country.

“Every smoker should wake up to the risks they take every time they light up, and drop the habit of smoking whilst 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 at least one working smoke alarm on every level of your home and test them monthly. A working smoke alarm can give you the extra time you need to escape if the worst should happen.”

For free help and advice to stop smoking contact County Hall’s Stop Smoking service by calling 0800 389 3998 or Text SMOKEFREE to 80818.

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