Our community has recently experienced an increase in residential structure fires. A common cause in several of these events is improperly discarded smoking materials. According to the United States Fire Administration (USFA), data from 2019 indicates that two percent of all residential building fires are caused by smoking. This statistic alone is not that alarming. However, it is compounded when the data from residential fires where an injury or fatality occurred is considered. The USFA reports that in 2019, fires caused by smoking accounted for just over six percent of the incidents and fires that resulted in a fatality were caused by smoking in over twelve percent of the incidents. Those who smoke can take several steps to ensure that they are being as safe as possible to prevent a fire.
First, smoke outside. A residence contains many objects that can catch fire. A lit cigarette burns at a temperature of approximately 750-1200 degrees Fahrenheit. This is significantly higher than the ignition temperature of many home furnishings. Second, put cigarettes out all the way and do this every time. Do not leave burning cigarettes unattended. Thoroughly soaking the ashes and cigarette butts ensures that there are no remaining embers that can start a fire. Finally, utilize an ashtray or bucket of sand with a wide base to put out cigarettes. These non-flammable containers with wide bases won’t tip over easily and start an unintentional fire.
Quitting smoking has the dual benefit of not only preventing fires started by smoking materials, but also improves your health. The American Cancer Society reports that health benefits of quitting begin as soon as twenty minutes after quitting with a drop in heart rate and blood pressure. One year after quitting, the risk of heart attack decreases significantly and five to ten years after quitting your risk of certain cancers is cut in half with the risk of stroke also decreasing. Fifteen years after quitting, your risk of coronary heart disease is nearly similar to that of a non-smoker. This month is American Heart Month so take this opportunity to quit for your heart and your home!