Smoking & related issues – safeguarding advice for all
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 second hand smoke.
Smoking is bad for everyone’s health, and can be particularly bad for women and their babies during pregnancy. Smoking increases the risks of complications during pregnancy, including miscarriage, poor growth of the baby and stillbirth. The best thing you can do for your own and your baby’s health is to stop smoking completely. For support, ask your GP, midwife or call one of the numbers below. The sooner you stop smoking, the quicker the risks are reduced. Smoke from other peoples cigarettes is also harmful, so all babies and children need their home to be kept completely smoke free.
History Makers GM
Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) History Makers and Smokefree Summer are inspiring a smoke free generation.
After a survey of thousands of people in Greater Manchester, the History Makers results show that the vast majority of people:
- want to have more smoke free outdoor spaces
- agree that tobacco should be licensed
- would like people to be warned about the dangers of smoking
It is clear that the majority of local people want to Make Smoking History in Greater Manchester.
Find out more about this initiative and how to get involved on the GM History Makers website at www.historymakersgm.co.uk
Local information & support to stop smoking
- buzz – information about the new health and well-being service for people and communities in Manchester can be found on the buzz website at buzzmanchester.co.uk/
- Stop Smoking Manchester information and resources can be found on their website at www.stopsmokingmanchester.co.uk/
- Greater Manchester Mental Health Trust information about smoking and mental health, and support for quitting can be found on their website at www.gmmh.nhs.uk/smokefree
- NHS Smokefree has lots of resources and links to a range of support on its website at www.nhs.uk/smokefree
- the NHS Smoking Helpline offers specialist support over the phone – speak to an adviser on 0300 123 1044
- Quitbecause offers information specifically aimed at young smokers on their website at www.quitbecause.org.uk/
Manchester illegal tobacco campaign
People who supply illegal tobacco – which often leads to children getting hooked on smoking – are being targeted through a new campaign.
The Keep It Out campaign which was launched in May 2019 and aims to raise awareness of the harm done to under-18s and the wider community by the dealers and suppliers who provide cheap cigarettes.
Find out more on the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership website at www.gmhsc.org.uk/illegal-tobacco-campaign
The campaign against illicit tobacco is relevant to any community or health setting, housing office etc – agencies know that illicit/fake/counterfeit tobacco is sold widely in small shops and peoples homes, pubs and clubs. We want to help people to understand that the issue affects children and is not just about cheap cigs – it is also a big source of revenue for organised crime groups.
People can report information anonymously about tobacco being sold illegally to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or at keep-it-out.co.uk.
Smoking and asthma
Even if your child does not have asthma, being around parents, grandparents or other family members who smoke increases their risk of developing childhood wheeze. Children exposed to second hand smoke are also at much greater risk of cot death, meningitis, lung infections and ear disease.
If children are living with people who smoke, they will be three times more likely to start smoking themselves than children in smoke-free homes.
If people start smoking as a child or adolescent they are increasing the risk of asthma symptoms continuing into adulthood as well as other serious diseases. There is also evidence to suggest that teenagers who start smoking double their risk of developing asthma.
For further information visit the Asthma UK website at www.asthma.org.uk/advice/manage-your-asthma/quit-smoking/
Preventing smoking related fires
Careless disposal of cigarettes is the single biggest killer in house fires causing over a third of all fire deaths.
- 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 are tired, taking prescription drugs or if you have been drinking. You might fall asleep and set your bed or sofa on fire.
If you or someone else smokes in your home, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk.
Each year 1,770 people are either killed or injured by fires caused by smoking at home. If you are a smoker or you have a smoker living in your house, stay out of danger by following crucial safety advice from GMFRS on their website at www.manchesterfire.gov.uk/staying-safe/smoking-safety
Safety advice for smokers who use emollients
If you use paraffin-based emollient creams always keep away from fire, flames and cigarettes. If you smoke, you should ask your doctor for a non-flammable alternative cream.
You should also take care with any clothing, dressing or bedding that you have come into contact with as the ointment may have transferred onto the material and could easily be ignited.
Smoking or a naked flame could cause 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 medical dressings or clothing. Change clothing and bedding regularly—preferably daily—because emollients soak into fabric and can become a fire hazard.
Examples of paraffin-based emollients include:
- white soft paraffin
- white soft paraffin plus 50% liquid paraffin
- emulsifying ointment.
The MSB have produced a 7 minute briefing on this issue which can be shared with practitioners or service users.
To view a video (3 minutes) about this issue and how to reduce the potential fire risk visit the YouTube website at www.youtube.com/watch?v=nq7JtvRdtWY
Safety advice for smokers with mobility impairments
If you have difficulty hearing, seeing or moving you need to take extra care when dealing with fire risks.
GMFRS can visit you at home to provide free fire safety advice and they may fit specialised smoke alarms for you. Find out more on their website at www.manchesterfire.gov.uk/staying-safe/advice-for-disabled-people
Safety advice for smokers receiving oxygen treatment
Never smoke while using oxygen. Oxygen is a fire hazard and can easily ignite.
If you have oxygen treatment in your home you should take a number of precautions, including:
- always keep the cylinder away from flames and heat sources, such as cookers or fire places
- don’t use flammable liquids near the cylinder
- ensure you have smoke alarms fitted in every room you regularly use, including in the hallway.
Smoking is the most common cause of fire deaths in the home and while measures can be taken to reduce the dangers, the advice is simple – quit and you significantly reduce your chances of dying in a fire.
For help and advice to quit smoking call the NHS Smoke Free helpline on 0800 022 4332 or visit the NHS Smoke Free website at www.nhs.uk/smokefree or see the links above.
Advice for carers
There are some simple actions you can take if you are caring for someone to ensure they are less at risk from fire. Book a GMFRS Safe and Well visit on their website at www.manchesterfire.gov.uk/staying-safe/safe-and-well-visit
Ideally everyone would stop smoking – but if the person you care for cannot or will not stop – be aware that scorch marks on the floor, furniture or their clothing are a sign that they might be at risk. When caring for some who smokes:
- provide proper ashtrays and empty them regularly
- stop the person smoking anywhere they may fall asleep
- do not let the person smoke near any oxygen based equipment or paraffin based products like emollient creams.
The majority of fires in the home are caused by cooking – usually when someone leaves the cooking unattended. When you are caring for someone consider:
- factors that might make people forget about their cooking – alcohol, medication or a health condition that effects their memory
- fitting a heat alarm in the kitchen – these are triggered by heat so do not go off when cooking
- loose baggy clothing – it can easily catch on a hob or a pan
- specialist equipment – cookers that let you know when they have been left unattended.
Health equipment and products
Over-the-counter health equipment or products, such as flammable emollient creams and incontinence pads, are common features of serious and fatal fires. Try these few tips when caring for someone who needs this type of product:
- use paraffin free emollient creams – they are no more expensive and much safer
- do not use electric blankets with paraffin based emollient creams
- store incontinence pads away from naked flames and where the person smokes
- do not smoke, leave hot items or use electrical goods, like electric blankets, on airflow mattresses
- keep home oxygen away from open flames and fires and do not let anyone smoke while using home oxygen
- install domestic sprinklers and link to smoke detection to Telecare systems.
Hoarded materials can easily catch alight if they come into contact with heat sources such as overloaded extension leads, the kitchen hob or naked flames like candles or cigarettes. Because of the amount of possessions, fires will also spread much faster. Key points for anyone living in a hoarded property are:
- do not light candles or tea lights of any kind
- make sure the person smokes outside, if they smoke
- develop an escape plan
- book a GMFRS Safe and Well visit through their website at www.manchesterfire.gov.uk/staying-safe/safe-and-well-visit
- see our hoarding resource for more advice.
Smoke and heat alarms can save lives. Every home should have alarms fitted on the ceiling in all areas of risk and should be tested regularly.
Heat alarms are best for kitchens and smoke alarms can be fitted in most other rooms except for the bathroom, as steam from the hot water could cause false alarms.
Consider these points about alarms:
- interlinking alarms, so that when one alarm detects a fire they all go off together
- if a Telecare system is fitted, this should be linked to the fire alarms
- specialist strobe light and vibrating pad alarms are available for people who are deaf or hard of hearing
- automatic water systems such as sprinklers may be needed for people who cannot escape easily.