Firefighters are reminding smokers that careless disposal of cigarettes is the single biggest killer in house fires across the country.
Habits such as smoking in bed, or lighting up while drinking alcohol in the home, are responsible for a third of all the accidental house fires that result in deaths, according to the latest government figures.
The warning comes during the run-up to No Smoking Day, which takes place on Wednesday.
National figures show that in 2010-11, 96 people died and more than 800 were injured in house fires caused by smokers’ materials. In the area served by Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service, there were 11 fires and three injuries.
Community safety manager Chris Bailey said: “Although we saw the introduction of ‘self-extinguishing’ cigarettes at the end of last year, the only way to guarantee your safety is to be vigilant.
“If you are planning to give up on 14 March, we wish you every success. For smokers who are not ready to kick the habit, we urge you to follow some simple safety advice to help prevent a fire at home.”
Chris’s top tips are:
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.
Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service will carry out free home safety check to identify potential fire risks in your home, advise what to do to reduce or prevent them and fit free smoke alarms. Ring 01296 744477 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to book one of these visits.
Never smoke in bed, and 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 and this could be lethal when combined with smoking.
Never leave cigarettes, cigars or pipes unattended after you have lit them - they can easily overbalance as they burn down.
Use child-resistant lighters and matchboxes - every year children die after starting fires with matches and lighters. Keep these where children can’t reach them.
Tap your ash into a proper ashtray, never a wastebasket containing other rubbish - and don’t let the ash or cigarette ends build up in the ashtray.
Next week’s national day is organised by the charity No Smoking Day. For more information about No smoking Day and advice on giving up smoking, visit www.nosmokingday.org.uk and www.wequit.co.uk