Fires caused by smoking materials are the biggest killers in accidental house fires. In fact, someone dies from a fire caused by cigarettes or smoking materials every five days. If you smoke in your home, we would urge you to be cautious and follow the safety advice below:

  • Careless disposal of cigarettes is the single biggest killer in house fires causing over a third of all fire deaths (36%).
  • Stub cigarettes out properly and dispose of them carefully. Put them out. Right out!
  • Use a proper ashtray – never a wastepaper basket. Make sure your ashtray can’t tip over and is made of a material that won’t burn.
  • Don’t leave a lit cigarette, cigar or pipe lying around. They can easily fall over and start a fire.
  • Be Alert! Never smoke in bed!

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 or sofa on fire. Take it outside: Make your home and car smoke free to prevent fires and protect children and other people who live with you. Since 1st October 2015, it is illegal to smoke in a car (or other vehicle) with anyone under 18. The law changed to protect children and young people from the dangers of secondhand smoke.

Smoking when using paraffin based emollients

Smoking or a naked flame could cause patients’ dressings or clothing to catch fire when being treated with paraffin-based emollient that is in contact with the dressing or clothing. DO NOT smoke and/or use naked flames (or be near people who are smoking or using naked flames) or go near anything that may cause a fire while emollients are in contact with their medical dressings or clothing. Change patient clothing and bedding regularly—preferably daily—because emollients soak into fabric and can become a fire hazard. Incidents should be reported to NHS England’s Serious Incident Framework (includes Wales), or to the Health and Social Care Boards in Northern Ireland. For questions regarding alerts in Scotland, contact Healthcare Improvement Scotland. Examples of paraffin-based emollients include:

  • white soft paraffin
  • white soft paraffin plus 50% liquid paraffin
  • emulsifying ointment

Electronic Cigarettes (E-Cigarettes)

An electronic cigarette, also known as an e-cigarette, is an electronic inhaler that vaporises a liquid solution into an aerosol mist, simulating the act of tobacco smoking. All e-cigarettes use a rechargeable battery to power the vaporiser and these batteries require recharging on a regular basis.

Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service have responded to a number of incidents involving electronic cigarettes. These pictures show an e-cigarette battery pack which exploded as a result of being overcharged. The explosion caused a fatal house fire.

Images courtesy of Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service.


Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer and pay close attention to any warnings supplied with the product. Ensure that e-cigarettes are not left charging for long periods of time and never leave e-cigarettes plugged in overnight or whilst you are out of the house. Look out for the CE mark that indicates chargers comply with European Safety standards. Never keep loose e-cigarette batteries in your pocket, particularly next to keys or coins – they are more likely to cause fire.