Smoking remains one of the leading causes of fires in the home, with smoking materials causing over 500 fires during the lockdown period alone. Most notably, was a fire at a flat in Kennington at the end of June which resulted in a first floor flat being destroyed by fire, smoke and heat and 18 people receiving treatment from London Ambulance Service crews.
LFB’s Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, Charlie Pugsley, said, “When you read that one million people have given up smoking in the recent months, you expect the number of smoking fires to mirror that and decrease, but we have actually seen the opposite. Lots of people have been working from home and staying indoors more, which might explain why we have seen a spike in smoking-related fires which start in various rooms in the home as people bring their smoking habits inside.”
According to the survey carried out by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), 400,000 smokers under the age of 30 have committed to make the change in comparison to just 240,000 of those over 50. Concern around the increase in smoking-related fires is heightened by the fact that older age groups are not giving up the habit in the same quantities as their younger counterparts. Older people who live on their own had three times as many fires in their home compared to those under 65, with smoking remaining a leading cause of fatal fires.
Director of Policy at Action on Smoking and Health, Hazel Cheeseman said, “Our message for smokers is that today is the day to quit. There is plenty of help out there, you can search ‘smokefree’ or look up the Stop Smoking London website to find out more. But if you can’t quit, you can protect yourself and your loved ones by taking it outside. You can use nicotine replacement therapy or e-cigarettes inside which will protect others from second-hand smoke and reduce the chances of starting a fire.”
LFB’s smoking safety advice
- It's safer to smoke outside, but make sure cigarettes are put right out and disposed of properly.
- Never smoke in bed and avoid smoking on armchairs and sofas – especially if you think you might fall asleep.
- Take extra care when you’re tired, taking prescription drugs or if you’ve been drinking alcohol.
- Use proper ashtrays which can’t tip over and stub cigarettes out properly.
- Always empty ashtrays carefully. Make sure smoking materials are out, cold and preferably wet them before throwing into a bin – never use a wastepaper basket.
- Never smoke if you use healthcare equipment like medical oxygen, an air flow pressure relief mattress or emollient creams.
- Consider additional safety measures such as fire-retardant bedding or nightwear.
- Fit smoke alarms in any room where a fire could start in your home. In smoky or steamy rooms, like your kitchen or bathroom, a heat alarm is more suitable.
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