15:34 10 March 2010
Smokers are being urged t being urged to quit their habit or at the very least realise its danger, as statistics reveal that a third of those who die in accidental house fires die in blazes started by cigarettes.
Despite this shocking wake-up call, less than half (40%) of smokers are aware that smoking is the biggest cause of deaths in accidental house fires.
Even those who are unable to give up can reduce their chance of a blaze by cutting out dangerous habits such as smoking in bed.
The Fire Kills campaign is encouraging people to install smoke alarms on every level of the home and test them weekly.
A smoke alarm that works means you are more than twice as likely to survive an accidental house fire.
The Government's chief fire and rescue adviser Sir Ken Knight said: "Without an early alarm system in place you lose valuable escape time.
"Just two to three breaths of toxic smoke can render a person unconscious.
"People need to be aware of the risks of smoking in the home and how smoking materials can very easily lead to fires.
"When extinguishing cigarettes smokers must make sure they 'put it out, right out'."
Supporting the campaign is boxing commentator Steve Bunce. He is only too aware of the dangers after his home caught fire when he was 14-years-old when his accidentally mother fell asleep while smoking in their family home.
Talking about his terrifying experience, Bunce said: "When I was a boy living at home I was caught in a fire. The speed at which it started is something that I will never forget.
"My mum fell asleep whilst smoking. Her cigarette toppled from an ashtray and started to burn through the sofa. Just as the sofa caught fire, my mother awoke and screamed loudly waking everybody up. Had my mother not woken up I might not be here today. It scared her so much that she gave up for a day!"
According to research by the No Smoking Day Charity, 70% of smokers want to stop, but aren't aware that there is free, local help available to them.
"Your local stop smoking service can increase your chances of success by four times," chief executive of the charity, Dan Tickle, said: "Why not take the first step this No Smoking Day and feel fitter, healthier and safer in your home."
For smokers not ready to kick the habit this No Smoking Day (March 10), it is important to follow these simple precautions to prevent a fire at home:
Ask the experts - Fire and Rescue Services in England offer free home fire risk checks to identify potential fire risks and advise what to do to reduce or prevent them and they may offer to fit a smoke alarm free of charge.
For further information on fire safety, visit www.direct.gov.uk/firekills
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