More people die in fires started by carelessly discarded or abandoned smoking materials such as cigarettes butts and cigarette ashes than any other type of residential fire. Fires caused by smoking materials often smolder, sometimes for hours before the first flames occur. For most people who died in residential smoking fires, escape was made more difficult because they were asleep. The most common materials to first ignite are mattresses and bedding, followed by trash, and upholstered furniture.
Smoking Safety Facts
- The risk of dying in a residential fire caused by smoking increases with age. Over 40% of fatal smoking material fire victims were age 65 or older, compared to their 13% share of the population.
- Smokers are seven times more likely than non-smokers to have a fire in their home. If you are a smoker, take extra precautions to ensure the safety of you and your family.
- Never smoke in bed.
- Replace mattresses made before the 2007 Federal Mattress Flammability Standard. Mattresses made since then are required to be safer.
- The risk of dying in a home structure fire caused by smoking materials rises with age.
- In recent years, Canada and the United States have required that all cigarettes sold must be "fire safe," that is—reduced ignition strength and less likely to start fires.
If You or Anyone in Your Home Smokes
- If you must smoke, smoke outside.
- Use deep, wide ashtrays on a sturdy table, and check them frequently.
- Never smoke in a home where oxygen is being used.
- Choose fire-safe cigarettes. They are less likely to cause fires.
- Keep matches and lighters up high, out of children's sight and reach.
- After entertaining in your home always check on, between and under upholstery and cushions and inside trash cans for cigarette butts that may be smoldering.
- Completely douse cigarette butts with water or sand before discarding.
- Don't smoke in bed or lying down, especially if you are drowsy, medicated or have been drinking alcohol.
- Consider additional smoke alarms in your home, specifically a photoelectric type, which is the most reliable for smoldering type fires.
- Children may be attracted to matches and lighters, making them a special fire risk. Keep matches and lighters up high and out of sight and reach of children. When smokers visit your home, ask them to smoke outside and keep their smoking materials with them so young children do not touch them.
- Ensure you have working smoke alarms on each level of your home and in the halls outside of all bedrooms. Contact the Charleston Fire Department at 843-720-1981 for a free smoke alarm and installation.
- Always remember to have a home fire escape plan and practice the plan at least twice a year with your family.