Smoking is one of the highest fire risks – in fact, fires started by smoking materials account for one third of all accidental fire deaths.
The best way of protecting yourself and others in your home from this risk is to give up smoking altogether; failing that, only ever smoke outside.
If you have to smoke indoors, remember to ‘put it out – right out’ and:
- Make sure cigarettes, cigars and pipes are properly extinguished when you have finished smoking.
- Don’t leave lit cigarettes, cigars or pipes unattended – they can easily over-balance as they burn down, and this could lead to a fire starting.
- Never smoke in bed.
- Use a proper ashtray that won’t tip over easily and is made of material that won’t burn.
- Never tap ash or empty an ashtray into a wastepaper basket.
- Make sure that ashtrays are emptied frequently, damping down the contents with water before disposing of them into a metal bin outside the home.
- Take extra care if you smoke when you’re tired, taking prescription drugs or if you’ve been drinking. You might fall asleep and set your bed, sofa or clothing on fire.
- Keep matches and lighters out of children’s reach.
E-cigarettes are becoming increasingly popular and, with more people using the devices, we are seeing more and more incidents relating to them across the country.
E-cigarettes, also known as personal vaporisers or electronic nicotine delivery systems, are battery powered and simulate tobacco smoking by producing a vapour that resembles smoke.
Heating elements known as atomisers vaporise the e-liquid, which usually contains a mixture of propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine, nicotine and flavourings.
Some products on the market release vapour without nicotine but with flavours more appealing to younger people.
E-cigarettes are sold with either single-use batteries or lithium-ion rechargeable batteries. These batteries can fail whilst on charge, sometimes with explosive force.
Several factors can lead to battery failure, including:
- Use of incorrect charger
- Damage to battery caused by dropping or other impact
- USB lead plugged into non-approved mains power transformer
- Poor manufacturing
- No over-charge or over-heat protection
Different USB chargers give different voltages, which can cause the lithium battery to be over-cooked to the point where it explodes.
Our advice for e-cigarettes is the same as for many smaller electrical appliances such as mobile phones and laptops – don’t be tempted to buy cheap unbranded chargers, don’t leave them to charge whilst you are out of the house or asleep, and keep them well away from flammable materials.
The following advice should always be followed by e-cigarette users:
- Never leave e-cigarettes on charge and unattended for long periods, and never leave a device on charge overnight.
- Don’t mix components of different e-cigarettes.
- Only use the charger supplied.
- Ensure that you purchase your e-cigarette from a reputable source.
- Check the e-cigarette carries CE certification.
- Follow the manufacturer’s guidance.
- Never charge e-cigarettes near or on combustible or flammable materials.
- Contact Trading Standards over any e-cigarette safety concerns.
You can also buy specialist fire retardant bags, which can be used when the batteries are on charge – these cost about £5.