These fires can affect not only the smoker, but others living in or next to the home at the time of the fire. A lit cigarette left alone in a room, or accidentally dropped onto a chair or bed, or hot cigarette ashes or matches tossed away before they are completely out - all can cause a deadly fire.
Smoking is the leading cause of home fire deaths in the United States. Even with working smoke alarms and automatic fire sprinklers in the home, a person who falls asleep with a lit smoking material is likely to die in the event of fire. In addition, according to the United States Fire Administration, one-in-four people killed in home fires is not the smoker whose cigarette caused the fire.
• More than one-third were children of the smokers.
• Twenty-five percent were neighbors or friends of the smokers.
New, so called “fire-safe cigarettes,” may be less likely to cause fires as these cigarettes have banded paper that can slow the burn of a cigarette that isn’t being used. However, fires caused by these cigarettes continue to cause deadly fires as well. According to Ted Pisciotta, Assistant Chief – Fire Prevention, fire is preventable. Not smoking at all is an obvious solution. But if you do smoke follow these action steps:
- Smoke outside and away from any wood deck or structure that is attached or in close proximity to the home. Most home fires caused by smoking materials start inside the home. It’s better to smoke outside.
- Wherever you smoke, use deep, sturdy ashtrays. Use ashtrays with a wide, stable base that are hard to tip over. If it wobbles, it won’t work. Ashtrays should be set on something sturdy and hard to ignite, like a table. If you smoke outside, put your cigarettes out in a can filled with sand.
- Check for butts. Chairs and sofas can catch on fire and burn fast. Don’t put ashtrays on them. If people have been smoking in the home, check for cigarettes under cushions.
- Never smoke in a home where oxygen is used, even if it is turned off. Oxygen can cause materials to be more easily ignited and makes fire burn hotter and faster.
- Be alert. If you are sleepy, have been drinking, or have taken medicine that makes you drowsy, put your cigarette out first. Smoking in bed or where you might fall asleep is just plain wrong.
Finally, as in every season, have working smoke alarms installed on every level of your home, test them monthly and keep them clean and equipped with fresh batteries at all times. Know when and how to call “911” for help. And remember to practice your home escape plan.
For information, the public is encouraged to contact the Shelton Fire Prevention Bureau at 203-924-1555 or under "Public Safety" at www.cityofshelton.org
The above information was provided by Ted Pisciotta, Assistant Chief - Fire Prevention.