Fire chiefs issue cigarette house fire warning ahead of No Smoking Day on Wednesday

FIRE chiefs have warned smokers across Cambridgeshire that careless disposal of cigarettes is the single biggest killer in house fires.

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service issued the warning to coincide with No Smoking Day, which takes place on Wednesday.

Habits such as smoking while drinking alcohol at home or lighting up in bed are responsible for one in three accidental house fires resulting in deaths in England.

In Cambridgeshire in 2009/10, there were 31 accidental fires in the home caused by smoking. These resulted in eight casualties and two fire deaths.

Andy Tucker, Risk Manager for Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, urged people to install smoke alarms on every level of their home and test them weekly.

He 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 in a house fire can render a person unconscious.

“As well as the health dangers of smoking, 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.

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“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 this No Smoking Day, 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 or www.cambsfire.gov.uk

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