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For this month’s submission, I am going to talk about an issue on the periphery of security. The topic of the month will be smoking and tips in the discarding of smoking waste. To get some statistics on the damages of smoking and home fires we will go back to statistics from 2011. Statistics on this topic on not updated on an annual basis.

Facts and figures:

  • In 2011, there were an estimated 90,000 smoking-material fires in the United States. These fires caused 540 civilian deaths, 1,640 civilian injuries and $621 million in direct property damage.
  • One out of four fatal victims of smoking-material fires are not the smoker whose cigarette started the fire.
  • Most deaths result from fires that started in bedrooms (40%), or in living rooms, family rooms or dens (35%).
  • Nearly half (46%) fatal home smoking-material fire victims were age 65 or older.
  • In addition, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) showed the leading cause of civilian deaths in home structure fires (66%), from 2010-2014, was from smoking related materials.
  • In 2013, the NFPA reported a 30% decline in smoking-material fire deaths, from 2003-2011, due to reduced ignition propensity (RIP) cigarettes
  • The long-term trend in smoking-material fires has been down, by 73% from 1980 to 2011, helped by the decline in smoking, the effect of standards and regulations that have made mattresses and upholstered furniture more resistant to cigarette ignition, and more recently, the adaption of fire-safe cigarette requirements throughout the country

Safety Tips

  • Smoking materials (i.e., cigarettes, cigars, pipes, etc.) are the leading cause of fire deaths in the United States.
  • If you smoke, smoke outside.
  • Use deep, wide ashtrays on a sturdy table.
  • Before you throw out butts and ashes, make sure they are out, and dousing in water or sand is the best way to do that.
  • Check under furniture cushions and in other places people smoke for cigarette butts that may have fallen out of sight.
  • Never smoke in a home where oxygen is being used.
  • If you smoke, choose fire-safe cigarettes (RIP). They are less likely to cause fires.
  • To prevent a deadly cigarette fire, you should be alert.
  • Keep matches and lighters up high, out of children’s sight and reach.

I think we can all get the picture of smoking waste and cost. Given we all live in a neighborhood closely fit together, please keep yourself and neighbors in mind if you go out for a smoke. It only takes a second and those seconds count for all.

Information gathered from the National Fire Protection Association and the Burn Prevention Network.