Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) is urging smokers to light up outside to reduce the risk of fire in homes across the county.
Despite the number of people smoking in the UK falling, Kent is seeing a continuous trend in the number of property fires linked to smoking – with fire crews tackling the equivalent of one smoking related fire every single week.
Most often these types of fires start when smokers light up and then fall asleep or get distracted, or when they throw cigarettes away carelessly or bin them while still hot.
These accidental incidents are often avoidable and that’s why KFRS has launched its campaign called 'Smoke Outside, Feel Safer Inside' to urge people who currently smoke indoors, to do so outdoors.
KFRS Assistant Director for Customer and Building Safety, Mark Woodward, said: “It may seem strange that we’re not actively telling people to quit smoking, but this campaign is for those who aren’t quite ready to give up. If they’re going to smoke, we have a duty to try and protect them from the risks linked to their habit.
“Of course quitting is the ultimate solution to reducing smoking fire hazards, but for those who aren’t currently ready to stop, we want to encourage them to smoke outside instead of inside.
“Whether it’s a garden, courtyard, balcony or outside the front door, smoking outside means the fire risk to them, their home and belongings, and their loved ones is significantly reduced.
"Such a simple tweak to the routine will make smokers more focused, more alert and more aware to take care. It’ll also make indoors a more pleasant place to be, and reduce second hand smoke for others in the household.
"Remember to stub cigarettes and other smoking materials out fully in an ashtray, and only place in a bin once cold.
“We do recognise that not all smokers will be able to go outside, and where someone has difficulty with mobility, we have other fire prevention options available to them. Through our home visit service, our Safe and Well team can identify if items such as fire retardant blankets and bedding, as well as carpet spray would be appropriate, and can provide them for free where required.”
To speak to the team about the free Safe and Well home visit service call 0800 923 7000.
As part of the campaign, KFRS is launching a 30-Day Step Outside Challenge on Monday, 9 August, which smokers across Kent and Medway are encouraged to get involved with. Participants will have access to a private Facebook group throughout and will be spurred on by KFRS, firefighters and other group members. The first 15 people to sign up will receive a £15 high street shopping voucher*.
Head to the Kent Fire and Rescue Service Facebook page to join the private group before 9pm on Sunday, 8 August. Anyone who would like to be involved but does not have Facebook, can take part via email – email email@example.com by 9pm on Sunday, 8 August.
*High street shopping vouchers will be allocated on a first come first serve basis, and recipients will need to have demonstrated full participation in the private Facebook group for the full 30-day challenge. The 15 vouchers will be allocated at the end of the challenge.