Essential Smoking & Fire Safety Tips You Should Know

Smokers are often warned of the health risks associated with smoking, but there is also a very real fire risk to consider. There are more fatalities from fires in the home caused by cigarettes and smoking products than any other reason.  Many of these fires could be prevented by people being more aware of their surroundings whilst smoking.


5 Smoking tips for a safer home

  1. Never Smoke in bed –  Smoking in bed is dangerous, it’s easy to drift off while relaxing in the evenings but falling asleep with a lit cigarette can cause a fire to spread very quickly. Furniture like beds, sofas and armchairs are covered in flammable fabrics like sheets and cushions that can catch alight almost instantaneously.
    If you are caring for a smoker that smokes in bed as there is no alternative, you can consider getting flame-retardant bed covers and monitoring them while smoking.

    Having a designated smoking area outside ensures you are away from potential indoor fire hazards. Smoking outside also has the added benefit of helping to prevent the smell and potential damage to your home caused by smoking inside.

  2. Never smoke when feeling sleepy or drowsy – If you are feeling tired it can be very easy to fall asleep without realising it, especially if you’re comfortable. Take extra care if you’re taking prescription drugs or have been drinking alcohol, as this can cause drowsiness and could make escape difficult if there were a fire.
    Nicotine is also a stimulant which can make you feel mentally alert, even though you may be physically exhausted, this could mean you fall asleep without even feeling tired.Clothes will easily set alight if a lit cigarette were to fall from your hand or mouth onto your person while you slept.  Ensuring not to smoke when feeling sleepy or drowsy will eliminate the risk of an accidental fire in the home.
  3. Never leave a lit cigarette unattended – Never leave lit cigarettes, pipes or cigars unattended, they can easily lose balance as they burn down. There have been improvements to increase the fire safety of cigarettes, like self-extinguishing once they have fully burned but there are still counterfeit cigarettes on the market that don’t contain these features. These cigarettes could pose a fire threat in the home, especially if left unattended; a fire can spread quickly throughout the home when surrounded by flammable materials. Always double-check that cigarettes, pipes or cigars are extinguished entirely before leaving the room.
  4. Keep all cigarette materials out of reach of children – In England in 2021/22, accidental fires in the home resulting from smoking materials made up 24% of all fatalities in accidental fires the home, a further 8% were from accidental fires started by cigarette lighters and matches. Children and pets don’t understand the potential fire risks of smoking materials, so it’s important to keep them out of reach at all times to keep them and your home safe. Child-resistant matches and lighters are available and worth considering if there are children or pets in the home.
  5. Keep ashtrays clean and clutter-free – When using an ashtray, it’s important they have a  heavy base and are made of fire-resistant material to avoid them being easily tipped over or setting alight.It can be easy to mistake a smouldering cigarette as completely extinguished, if disposed of in the general waste this could quickly ignite the contents, especially if paper and other flammable material are present.Tobacco is manufactured to burn at over 700°C and stay alight, meaning it can remain smouldering and start a fire. Smouldering cigarettes can easily spill over from a full ashtray and potentially cause a fire.

    After using an ashtray to make sure that any cigarettes are completely out, submerge them in water and dispose of the contents in a metal bin, preferably one that’s kept outside of the home.


Alarm protection to alert to smoking-related incidents

One of the most important safety measures is to fit, working heat and smoke alarms on each floor of your home.

Smoke alarms detect slow, smouldering fires and can be installed in multiple rooms, while heat alarms detect heat from large flaming fires and are normally installed in the kitchen and garage. 

Multi-sensor alarms like Aico’s Ei3024 Multi-Sensor Fire Alarm contain both heat and optical sensors and have the widest fire response, they are suitable for all rooms except the kitchens and are less prone to nuisance alarms.


Reducing the risks of smoking indoors

The best way to reduce fire risk from smoking is to attempt to quit, the NHS have a free stop-smoking service available with advice and support to help during the first few months you stop smoking. 

Vaping has fewer fire safety risks than smoking as there are no open flames, but they can cause nuisance alarms when used too close to optical smoke alarms. The aerosol mist from vaping devices can act like smoke, disrupting the light beans in optical smoke alarms, causing nuisance alarms with no smoke or fire present and possible damage to the alarm.


Further Reading

For further advice, visit our home fire safety article to find out more about keeping your home safe from potential fires as well as essential equipment.



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