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State reminds citizens that smoking can cause fires

With state fire statistics consistently indicating smoking as a major of cause of fire loss, the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) reminds Tennesseans that care must be taken with cigarettes.

Fires caused by smoking materials have had a devastating impact on the Volunteer State. The Tennessee Fire Incident Reporting System shows that during 2011-2015, Tennessee fire departments responded to 3,916 smoking-material fires.  (Smoking materials are lighted tobacco products, but do not include matches or lighters.) Those fires resulted in 75 civilian deaths, 85 civilian injuries, 20 fire service injuries and $40.8 million in direct property damage, records show.

“The tragic impact of fires caused by smoking should serve as a wake-up call for Tennesseans,” said Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. “We urge Tennesseans to always take care and be cautious when smoking – or to not smoke at all.”

The SFMO offers these safety reminders for anyone who currently smokes:

· To prevent a deadly cigarette fire, you must be alert. You won’t be alert if you are sleepy, have taken medicine or drugs that make you drowsy, or have consumed alcohol.

· If you smoke, smoke outside. Never smoke in bed.

· Never smoke where medical oxygen is used. Medical oxygen can cause materials to ignite more easily and make fires burn at a faster rate than normal. It can make an existing fire burn faster and hotter.

· Wherever you smoke, use deep, sturdy ashtrays. If ashtrays are not available, use a metal can or pail.

· Never empty smoking material directly into a trash can. Before you throw out butts and ashes, make sure they are fully extinguished. Put them out in water or sand.

· Do not throw out cigarettes into vegetation, potted plants or landscaping, peat moss, dried grasses, mulch, leaves, and other similar items—they can easily catch fire.

· Before going to bed, check under furniture cushions and around places where people smoke for cigarette butts that may have fallen out of sight.

· Keep cigarettes, lighters, matches, and other smoking materials up high out of the reach of children, in a locked cabinet.

· Use caution with electronic cigarettes (e-cigs). Charge the device as directed by the manufacturer.  Only use the charger supplied with your device. Do not mix and match components from different manufacturers or from other devices.  Do not leave unattended while charging. Do not over tighten the battery to the charger. Remove the battery from charger when fully charged. Clean the connections at least once a week.

For more information on making your home fire-safe, download and print the State Fire Marshal’s home fire safety checklist.

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:20 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH & WQLA. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, his mother-in-law and cats Lucius and Oliver.

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