Cigars, Cigarettes and FireAlthough increasing numbers of smokers are giving up their cigars and cigarettes, a significant number of people still smoke, and that means there is still a significant fire risk from smoking. Some tips will help to keep you and your family or colleagues safe from the risks of fires caused by cigars and cigarettes.

Smoking At Work – Indoors

The majority of office and industrial buildings now operate a ‘smoke-free’ environment which either means that people can only smoke in a designated area, or that they must go outside to smoke. If you are smoking in a designated ‘smoke room’ you should be aware that the risks of fire are considerably increased by the use of the room for smoking. Remember these simple rules to prevent a fire from starting as a result of your lack of care.

  • If you are lighting a cigar with a match, make sure the match is completely extinguished – a hot match head can easily re-ignite, especially if thrown in a bin with waste paper.
  • Be very careful to totally extinguish cigarettes and cigars after use. Ideally you should use a heavy glass ashtray, which cannot easily be knocked over. The last person to leave the room in the evening should ensure that all smoking materials in all ashtrays and bins are totally extinguished.
  • Do not leave cigars or cigarettes to burn out in ashtrays, always stub them out completely. This especially applies to cigars, which have a larger surface area when alight, and can cause a greater danger or re-igniting when left.
  • Dispose of throwaway lighters carefully, never assume they are completely empty of fuel, which would cause a fire if ignited by a stray match, cigarette or cigar end.
  • Never leave part-smoked cigars or cigarettes in ashtrays, they can easily re-ignite if left next to smouldering ashes, embers or matches.

Smoking At Work – Outdoors

  • A lot of companies do provide special bins for disposal of cigarettes, cigars, matches and so on, so make sure you use them.
  • If your company does not provide special disposal bins, use litterbins carefully. Ensure that your cigarette or cigar is fully extinguished, and cold before you place it in a bin – especially if the bin is made of plastic.
  • Do not drop your ash or other smoking debris on the ground. Apart from being unsightly, there is always the possibility that it may blow into dry grass or dropped litter and start a fire.
  • Be careful in windy conditions, stray embers and sparks, especially from cigars which produce more ash, can be blown onto clothing or even in through open windows, and can easily start a fire.
  • Be considerate of others – try to make sure your smoke does not blow into the building through open doors or windows.

Smoking At Home

In your own home, you need to be vigilant and act as your own fire warden. These points will ensure that you remain safe at home.

  • Don’t smoke if you are tired, and likely to fall asleep while sitting in your living room. The ashes from a left cigarette or cigar are a serious fire hazard.
  • Never ever smoke in bed – the chances of a single spark from an ember or match setting light to bedding is far too high.
  • Don’t smoke in your kitchen. Quite apart from hygiene issues, flammable materials such as cooking oils, gas, and so on, make the kitchen a dangerous place to smoke, so take your cigar or cigarette outside the house.
  • Keep your cigars, cigarettes, matches and lighters out of reach of children. Youngsters love to imitate adults, and imitating smoking can have fatal consequences if cigars or cigarettes are dropped or not extinguished properly.
  • At night, always check that all matches, cigarettes and cigars have been properly extinguished. Ideally, you should leave water in your ashtrays and metal containers where smoking debris is disposed of, and never throw cigarette or cigar ends outside still alight, you are inviting a fire, which could destroy your home.

If you follow these guidelines, and always remain aware of the risks of fire from cigars, cigarettes, matches, and the debris from smoking you, and everyone around you at work and at home can be safe, rather than sorry.