Be aware of smoking fire dangers
BY SHANNON MUCHMORE World Staff Writer
Monday, March 04, 2013
3/04/13 at 2:38 AM
The Tulsa Health Department is trying to raise awareness about the dangers of fires related to smoking materials.
Smoking is the No. 1 cause of fire deaths in the country and about 1,000 people are killed every year from fires started by smoking materials, according to the U.S Fire Administration.
Fires get started when people fall asleep while smoking, use unsafe ashtrays, throw cigarettes out of car windows and leave smoking material within the reach of children, said Tom Hufford, assistant fire marshal in public education and community relations for the Tulsa Fire Department.
Hufford is also a member of the Tobacco Free Coalition for Tulsa County.
Smokers are more likely to cause a fire when they have been drinking or using prescription drugs, he said.
Lighters that look like toys can be enticing to small children, who may not understand they're dangerous, he said.
Smoking outside is best, but smokers still need to be careful and alert, Hufford said.
"It's common sense for the most part," he said.
The Fire Department is always trying to get the word out about the fire danger of cigarettes, he said.
They have public service announcements and handouts. They host booths at fairs and other events, he said.
"Any time we can get in front of some people we're going to display those safety materials," he said.
One in four people killed in a fire started by smoking materials were not the smoker who caused the fire, according to the fire administration.
Tips to avoid smoking fires
- If you smoke, smoke outside.
- Use deep, wide ashtrays on a sturdy table.
- Make sure butts and ashes are out before you throw them away. 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, use fire-safe cigarettes.
- Keep matches and lighters up high, out of children's sight and reach.
Source: National Fire Protection Association
Original Print Headline: Smoking increases fire danger
Shannon Muchmore 918-581-8378
A firefighter sprays water on the front porch of a house that caught fire in 2009. No one was injured in the blaze, which was started by a cigarette. MATT BARNARD / Tulsa World file