Fairfax Co. fire department offers fire prevention, safety tips for smokers

Since the beginning of the year, eight fires in Fairfax County, Virginia, were caused by improperly disposed cigarettes or other smoking materials. The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department is looking to break that trend with some fire safety advice for smokers.

The county’s fire department started a campaign they call “Sink It or Soak It” that aims to educate people on the proper way to dispose of their smoking materials.

According to Fairfax Fire, the eight smoking-related fires in 2019 — were “totally preventable” and caused just under $900,000 in damages.

The fire department is asking people who smoke to take an extra moment to make sure that no remaining embers or hot ashes remain that could start a fire. They recommend dousing or submerging the embers in water to make sure they will not start a fire.

The full list of fire prevention tips for smokers from Fairfax Fire and Rescue:

  • Never dispose of cigarette butts in potted planting soil. The soil, when it gets too dry, can become highly flammable.
  • Never flick cigarettes into mulch or shrubbery. Dispose of them in a suitable ashtray or bucket with sand. Ensure designated outside smoking areas have an appropriate fireproof container, ashtray or bucket.
  • Completely douse butts and ashes with water before throwing them away, as they can smolder and cause a fire.
  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Provide large, deep ashtrays with a center support for smokers. Check furniture for any dropped ashes before going to bed. Empty ashes into a fireproof container with water and sand.
  • Keep smoking materials away from anything that can burn (i.e., mattresses, bedding, upholstered furniture, draperies, etc.).
  • Never smoke in a home where oxygen is being used.
  • If you smoke, choose fire-safe cigarettes. They are less likely to cause fires.
  • To prevent a deadly cigarette fire, you must be alert. You won’t be if you are sleepy, have been drinking, or have taken medicine or other drugs.
  • Keep matches and lighters up high, out of children’s sight and reach.

Zeke Hartner

Zeke Hartner is a digital writer/editor who has been with WTOP since 2017. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University’s Political Science program and an avid news junkie.

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