Welcome from the Chief
Preventing smoking related fires
The number of smokers in Wales has fallen consistently over the last decade, and this month marks National No Smoking Day, where people across the country will take the opportunity to stub out their cigarettes for good.
I for one welcome the rise in the number of people giving up cigarettes, as smokers are at far greater risk of having a fire in their home.
Firefighters attended 121 smoking related fires in the home over the last four years. Very often, house fires caused by smoking materials also involve other contributory factors, such as drinking alcohol – but cigarettes are a fire risk in themselves, and when combined with carelessness or drowsiness, they can be a tragedy just waiting to happen.
Some people will be taking a big step this month and will be throwing away their cigarettes and replacing them with an electronic cigarette, also known as an e-cigarette. This latest gadget is an electronic inhaler that vaporises a liquid solution into an aerosol mist, stimulating the act of tobacco smoking, and for some has assisted them in giving up the habit.
But all e-cigarettes use a rechargeable battery to power the vaporiser, these batteries require to be recharged on a regular basis, and a number of incidents have been reported nationally whereby the battery has either overheated or exploded during the charging process.
Although I encourage you to stub out your cigarettes this month, I do also urge you to take extra care if you decide to swap the matches for a charger, to always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and guidance, and to only use the battery and charger that was provided with the e-cigarette.
If you do not yet feel ready to give up cigarettes, smokers can follow some simple precautions to help prevent a fire in the home. These include taking extra care when you're tired, taking any sort of drugs or have been drinking alcohol, and never smoke in bed - if you need to lie down, don't light up. You could doze off and set your bed on fire.
Remember never leave lit cigarettes, cigars or pipes unattended and always buy child-resistant lighters and matchboxes. Keep these where children can't reach them. Also, use a proper, heavy ashtray that can't tip over easily and is made of a material that won't burn. Make sure your cigarette is not still burning when you are finished - put it out, right out.
Finally, tap your ash into an ashtray, never a wastebasket containing other rubbish - and don't let the ash or cigarette ends build up in the ashtray.
Of course the most important piece of advice is to be as prepared as possible in the event of fire, by ensuring that working smoke alarms are fitted in your home and that you have clear escape routes to enable you and your family to exit your home as quickly as possible.
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