Smoking and Fire Safety: Proper Butt Disposal

As forecasters are predicting another bad fire season, it is time to remind those of you who smoke about proper butt-disposal. There are steps you can take to not only keep your home safe from fire. And, since we live in a wildfire risk area, the steps you take can also help keep your community safe. Fires caused by cigarettes and other smoking materials are preventable and how you dispose of your cigarettes makes a difference.

According to Washington State Department of Natural Resources (WA-DNR), 90% of wildfires are caused by humans. It is important to dispose of cigarettes properly. If a cigarette is littered when not fully extinguished it can become a fire hazard. They can be particularly dangerous because if they are left burning, it may not be obvious. A fire started from a cigarette can go unnoticed. A cigarette butt can smolder and then start a fire.

  • Do not discard cigarettes in vegetation such as mulch, potted plants or landscaping, peat moss, dried grasses, leaves or other things that could ignite easily.
  • When you smoke outside, discard cigarettes in an unburnable (and unmeltable) can filled with sand and never throw cigarettes on the ground.
  • Wherever you smoke, use deep, sturdy ashtrays with a wide, stable base that are difficult to tip over and set ashtrays on something sturdy and difficult to ignite, such as a table. Make sure they are away from anything that can burn, including the side of your house, deck, fencing, etc.
  • Make sure cigarettes ashes are out before throwing them in the trash can. Soak cigarette ashes in water before throwing them away. Never toss hot cigarette ashes in the trash.
  • Put cigarettes out all the way. Do this every time. Don’t walk away from lit cigarettes and other smoking materials.

Remember, smoking material fires are preventable!


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