10 tips to prevent smoking-related fires

Even though the number of smokers is in decline, many fires are still caused by cigarettes and other smoking-related items. Because where there’s smoke, there’s fire, here are 10 tips to reduce the risk, whether it’s you or your guests who smoke.
Line of matches, from less burnt on the left side to more burnt on the right side

1. Before leaving a room, check furniture as well as chair or sofa cushions for dropped cigarettes or ashes.

Keep in mind that a cigarette butt can smolder for 3 to 4 hours.

2. If possible, use deep ashtrays with wide brims.

They are less likely to tip over. Be sure to place them on a stable surface, away from any flammable or combustible materials. Never leave a lit cigarette unattended.

3. Never throw out the contents of an ashtray in a garbage bin.

Instead, use a non-combustible container, such as a tin can, filled with wet sand or water. Place this container outside.

4. Do not smoke in bed.

It’s very easy to accidentally fall asleep, which can lead to a fire.

5. Avoid smoking under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or medication that may cause drowsiness.

You could be at greater risk of falling asleep with a lit cigarette.

6. Do not smoke in a room that may contain flammable products.

That includes aerosols, nail polishes, rubbing alcohol, and cleaning products.

7. Do not remove the battery from your smoke detector if it starts beeping.

It’s easy to forget to put it back. Instead, open the windows to let the smoke out.

8. Keep lighters and matches out of the reach of children.

Teach them what to do in the case of a fire—how to exit the house, how to call the emergency services (911), etc. Practice your evacuation plan with them.

9. Try to smoke outdoors.

This is safer than smoking indoors and will prevent the smell from permeating your home. However, avoid putting out your cigarettes in flower pots or flower beds, because these may contain flammable materials such as peat moss, sawdust or chemical fertilizers. Don’t throw your cigarette butts on the ground in nature, either. You’ll be polluting the environment, and you may even start a forest fire.

10. Always have a portable fire extinguisher nearby.

Know how to use it and make sure it is maintained so it will work in case of an emergency.