There are plenty of dangers with smoking in your home. The majority of smokers in the U.S. know and understand what those dangers are, but there are many unknown dangers that are hiding and waiting in the shadows to show their ugly faces. This article will discuss the many facts, as well as known and unknown dangers that you need to know about if you are a smoker or have a family member that is a smoker.
In 2011 there were 90,000 smoking related structure fires in the U.S. That is a very small decline from 2010 where there were 90,800 smoking related structure fires. Of those fires, 540 resulted in civilian deaths. 34% of those deaths were children. That number declined from 2010 where there were 590 civilian deaths related to smoking in homes. 2011 also saw 1,640 civilian injuries and $621 million in property damages. These numbers might seem high but they are declining each year, however there is still work to be done.
So where are we at when we catch our homes on fire? 40% of fires are starting in the bedroom and 35% are living rooms or family rooms. If we stopped smoking on our bedrooms and living rooms, and went outside, we could potentially cut 75% of smoking related structure fires out. With that being said, let’s discuss the unknown dangers of smoking in the home. I’m not going to say you are less likely to survive a home fire today as to 50 – 60 years ago, but the risk is a lot higher for what we have in our homes today. Take a look at what you have in your home. Your TV, couch, clothes, drapes, computers, dressers and so on. We have so many plastics, polycarbonates andsynthetics in our homes today fires burn hotter and faster and give off high amounts of dangerous gases. The amount of time you have to get out of the home safely is a very short window compared to back in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s where homes were filled with furniture built with real wood and cotton. There are studies today showing rooms filled with modern items being lit on fire and the room being completely engulfed in fire in three to four minutes, compared to a room being filled with older legacy furniture and home materials that when lit would flash or become fully involved about 25 to 30 minutes after ignition.
It is very simple; if you smoke just don’t do it in the house. Take the time and go outside to smoke. Here are some other helpful tips to go by:
• Put your cigarette butts out in water or sand.
• Use deep sturdy ashtrays and don’t put them on the couch or bed.
• Place ashtrays on a table away from other items that could catch fire.
• Don’t smoke if you are on oxygen, period!
• Make sure your ashtrays are cold before you discard them.
• Don’t empty your ashtray in your trash in your home. Its good practice to have a metal
bucket outside to empty them into.
• Never smoke in bed.
• Finally have a working smoke detector in your home. It’s amazing of the number of
homes without a working smoke detector. You should have a detector on each floor of
your home and outside and inside of each bedroom.
You can make a difference. Put it out. All the way. Every time.
NFPA Smoking-Material Fire Problem fact sheet and report
USFA Facts about Smoking and Home Fires