According to the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office smokers’ articles such as cigarettes, matches and lighters account for the leading cause of fire injuries and fire fatalities and are the 4th leading cause of preventable home fires in Ontario. The most fatal type of residential fire originates in a living area, during night time hours involving smoking materials igniting upholstered furniture. According to statistics on recent fires children are particularly at risk since at the time of most of the fatal fires children were asleep, unattended or too young to act.
Recently in the Town of Amherstburg there have been several fires related to careless smoking and careless disposal of smoking materials. In one case, residents in an apartment were disposing of cigarette butts by flicking them over their balcony. The discarded cigarette butts caused a fire to ignite on another resident’s balcony causing $15,000 damage. During that investigation reports of burned carpets and other items stored on balconies were also reported. It is imperative that cigarette butts be disposed of properly as this practice is a recipe for disaster.
Smoking is particularly dangerous when you are tired or have been drinking. Smokers can fall asleep with a lit cigarette that may smoulder for several hours and can ignite their clothes, or the mattress or sofa that they have fallen asleep on. Noxious fumes can overcome the victim and they may never wake.
Since careless smoking is the leading cause of fire deaths, if you or someone you live with smokes, please follow these safety tips.
- Use large deep ashtrays that won’t tip over to butt your cigarettes out
- Never empty ashes in the garbage
- If someone smokes make sure your house is well equipped with smoke alarms
- After a party, check for fallen butts on sofas and behind cushions. Make sure they have not burned through the fabric to erupt later into a deadly fire.
- Keep matches and lighters away from children
- If you have children and smoke have only one lighter and keep it with you at all times.
It is important to have an escape plan and several working smoke alarms in the unfortunate event that fire does break out in your home.