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Last updated: 13/03/2019, 9:07 AM

Stub it out before sleeping or risk dying in a fire warns London Fire Brigade

13/03/2019 08:57
Safety warnings

Firefighters are urging smokers to stub it out before they snooze as new figures show 71 people have died and more than 700 people have been injured as a result of fires caused by smoking in the last five years.

New figures from London Fire Brigade, released on No Smoking Day and during National Bed Month, show that 20 per cent of all smoking related fires in residential properties since 2014 started in the bedroom.

Firefighters are urging smokers to quit smoking for good as they have seen first hand how it can result in more fire deaths than any other type of fire.

For smokers who are not ready to quit, the Brigade is urging them to consider vaping as an alternative, which offers far less risk of being injured or dying in a fire caused by smoking.

A dropped cigarette can start a fire in a matter of seconds

Dan Daly, Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, said: “It is too easy to fall asleep while smoking in bed or in your favourite chair and a dropped cigarette or match can cause a fire to take hold in a matter of seconds. These fires can smoulder on bedding or fabric undetected for some time and can cause the most horrific injuries or worse.

“Most of those who die in smoking related fires are vulnerable people or those who have limited mobility and are unable to escape from a fire easily. People who use other medical interventions, such as emollient creams, airflow mattresses and medical oxygen, are at an increased risk as these items can increase the speed of a fire taking hold and the intensity of the fire.”

The Brigade’s key safety tips for smokers and those caring for smokers are:

  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Never smoke near an airflow mattress in case it punctures as the release of air can cause a fire to spread rapidly. Follow the Brigade’s advice on specialist health equipment to reduce fire risk.
  • If a smoker is bed-bound and uses emollient creams, talk to a GP or pharmacist about the potential of using a non-flammable alternative and putting control measures in place, such as ensuring bedding is washed according to the guidance.
  • If you spot signs of fire risk such as burn marks on bedding, chairs or carpets or ash falling on clothes when someone smokes, you should contact local care services to raise concerns or the Brigade for a home fire safety visit. Advice for smokers and those worried about smokers is available here.
  • The Brigade offers free home fire safety visits where firefighters visit people at home to provide fire safety advice, will fit free smoke alarms where needed and other fire safety interventions such as fire retardant bedding.

AC Daly added: “Quitting smoking has countless health benefits but from our viewpoint, it also considerably reduces the chances of you, and those visiting or living with you, dying or being seriously injured in a fire.

“If you can’t quit, then opt for vaping which has a lower fire risk. Losing your home or getting hurt in a fire are serious consequences of smoking – stop smoking now and enjoy a smoke free life.”

Vaping has a lower fire risk

In the past five years the Brigade has not recorded any fire fatalities or injuries caused by electronic cigarette equipment. Vaping related fires are more likely to occur due to a faulty e-cigarette battery or charger rather than vaping itself.

The Brigade’s advice on quitting smoking is in line with Public Health England and the NHS who encourage smokers to access the support of local smoking cessation services.