AS national No Smoking Day arrives, Bucks firefighters are reminding smokers that careless disposal of cigarettes is the single biggest killer in house fires across the country.
Habits such as lighting up in bed, or smoking while drinking alcohol in the home, are responsible for a third of all accidental house fires resulting in deaths in England, government figures show.
The warning comes during the run-up to the 31st annual No Smoking Day, which takes place today, March 12.
Last year there were 22 smoking-related fires in Buckinghamshire and 24 in Milton Keynes. The fires led to one death and two injuries.
Neil Boustred, Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service’s community safety manager, said: "Although people are generally aware of the health risks associated with cigarettes, they are often surprised that they pose such a significant risk to life in the event of a fire.
"Cigarettes flicked from car windows or while walking down the street can also cause fires which can spread rapidly, damaging buildings, destroying wildlife and tying up valuable emergency service resources.
"If you have recently given up smoking or are planning to give up on No Smoking Day, we wish you every success. For smokers who are not ready to kick the habit, we urge you to follow some simple safety advice to help prevent a fire at home."
•Never leave lit cigarettes, cigars or pipes unattended. They can easily overbalance.
•Never smoke in bed, and take care when you’re tired. If you need to lie down, don’t light up.
•Put out cigarettes carefully and dispose of them thoughtfully when outdoors or driving. Don't flick them out of cars.
•Use child-resistant lighters and matchboxes, and keep them where children can't reach them.
•Tap your ash into a proper ashtray, never a wastebasket containing other rubbish - and don't let the ash or cigarette ends build up in the ashtray.
•Avoid drugs and alcohol when smoking. It’s easy to lose your concentration and this could be lethal when combined with smoking.
•Fit a smoke alarm and test it weekly or monthly. A working smoke alarm can buy you valuable time to get out, stay out and call 999.
Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service will carry out free safety check to identify potential fire risks in your home, advise what to do to reduce or prevent them and fit free smoke alarms if required. Ring 01296 744477 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to book one of these visits.
For information about No Smoking Day, and advice on giving up smoking, go to www.nosmokingday.org.uk