Smoking is the number 1 cause of home fire deaths across the country. You can prevent fires caused by cigarettes and other smoking materials. Smoking materials, including cigarettes, pipes, and cigars, started an estimated 17,200 home structure fires reported to U.S. fire departments in 2014. These fires caused 570 deaths, 1,140 injuries and $426 million in direct property damage. Smoking materials caused 5% of reported home fires, 21% of home fire deaths, 10% of home fire injuries, and 6% of the direct property damage from home fires. Here is what you need to know about keeping your home and family safe!
Safety Tips for Smokers to Avoid Fire Damage:
If you smoke, be a fire-safe smoker. Follow these tips to prevent a home fire damage and be prepared.
- Smoke outside. Many things in your home can catch on fire if they touch something hot like a cigarette or ashes. It is always safer to smoke outside.
- Put cigarettes out all the way. Do this every time. Don’t walk away from lit cigarettes and other smoking materials. Put water on the ashes and butts to make sure they are really out before you put them in the trash.
- Be alert. Do not smoke after taking medicine that makes you tired. You may not be able to prevent or escape from a fire if you are sleepy or have taken medicine that makes you tired.
- Never smoke around medical oxygen. Medical oxygen can explode if a flame or spark is near. Even if the oxygen is turned off, it can still catch on fire.
- Never smoke in bed. Mattresses and bedding can catch on fire easily. Do not smoke in bed because you might fall asleep with a lit cigarette.
- Put your cigarette out in an ashtray or bucket with sand. Use ashtrays with a wide base so they won’t tip over and start a fire.
Have working smoke alarms. Smoke is a poison that can kill you. Without a smoke alarm, you may not wake up from the smoke, and it can kill you in your sleep. This is why home fires are the most dangerous at night or when people are sleeping.
- Have working smoke alarms. You should have a smoke alarm on every level of your home. You should also have a smoke alarm inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. The sooner you know there is a fire, the more time you have to escape and can prevent more fire damage.
- Test your smoke alarms once a month. Use the test button to make sure your smoke alarms are working. A smoke alarm with dead batteries is the same as not having a smoke alarm.
- Replace smoke alarms after 10 years. Smoke alarms do not last forever. If your alarms are 10 years old or older, replace them with new alarms.
Make an escape plan. You may have less than 3 minutes to get out of your home if there is a fire. It is important to have an escape plan before a fire occurs, so everyone is prepared and ready to act.
- Make a plan. If there is a fire, you may have less than 3 minutes to get out of your home. Talk about what you should do to be safe. Make sure everyone in your home knows what to do if there is a fire. Practice your fire escape plan at least 2 times a year.
- Protect others. Do your part to make your home safe for yourself and others who live with you.
- Keep smoking materials away from children. Some children are curious about fire. Keep lighters and matches locked up in a high place. Never leave cigarette lighters or matches where children can reach them.