Fire prevention monthly focus: smoking safety

Smoking-related fires are preventable, yet they remain a leading cause of fires and fire deaths.

The careless use and disposal of smoking materials – including cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, lighters, matches, cigarette butts and ashes – results in injuries, deaths and millions of dollars in damages every year. Responsible storage, use and disposal of smoking materials will help prevent smoking-related fires.

Smoking

Smoking is a leading cause of fires, both in the home and in the community.

  • If you smoke, do it outside. Most fire deaths result from fires that started in living rooms, family rooms or bedrooms.
  • Be alert and aware of your surroundings when smoking. If you are tired, have taken medication that causes drowsiness, or have consumed alcohol, you are more likely to start a smoking-related fire.
  • Never smoke where medical oxygen is used. Medical oxygen can cause materials to ignite more easily and make fires burn at a faster rate.
  • Never leave a lit cigarette unattended; if you must leave a lit cigarette for any length of time, make sure it is fully extinguished and disposed of appropriately.

Electronic cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes and vapes, have caused fires when the devices were being used, the battery was being charged or the device was being transported.

  • Use caution when using electronic cigarettes. Do not modify your device and use only as recommended.
  • Always monitor the device when it is charging; read the manufacturer’s instructions for safe charging and do not exceed the recommended charging time.

Disposal

Smoking materials that are not properly extinguished can smoulder undetected for days before igniting. These fires can start when plant pots and other easy-to-ignite materials are used as ashtrays, or cigarette butts are carelessly discarded.

  • Always use a deep, not-combustible, sturdy ashtray to extinguish smoking materials.
  • Never extinguish smoking materials in plant pots; plant pots contain combustible materials – including soil and plants – that could ignite.
  • Never throw out cigarettes into vegetation, landscaping, peat moss, dried grasses, mulch, leaves, garbage and other similar items - they can easily catch fire.
  • Never discard smoking materials outside a vehicle window.
  • Make sure matches, cigarette butts and ashes are wet before you put them in a garbage container to prevent them from smoldering and starting a fire.

Storage

  • Keep cigarettes, lighters, matches and other smoking materials up high and in a locked cabinet, out of reach of children.­

Information contained in this tip sheet has been modified from the National Fire Protection Association, Alberta’s Office of the Fire Commissioner and the Government of Canada.

Download our tip sheet: safety tips for smokers 

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