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Combining the abuse of alcohol and other drugs with smoking is a high risk mixture leading to a significant number of fires - related injuries and death in Ohio and the nation. Studies by the U. S. Fire Administration have shown that more than half of all alcohol- impaired fire deaths were the result of fire caused by careless smoking.

Most people are aware of the independent health risks for smoking and alcohol abuse, while few realize the great, and potentially deadly, fire risk when alcohol and smoking are combined,” says State Fire Marshall Stephen K. Woltz. “Careless smoking is the leading cause of fire deaths in Ohio.”

In 2004, smoking caused 21 fire related deaths in Ohio, and over $14 Million in dollar loss. In North America, careless smoking causes nearly 1,000 deaths and $400 million in property damage each year. The U.S. Fire Administration reports that nearly half of adult emergency room patients treated for trauma are alcohol impaired, and burn victims with high blood alcohol levels are more likely to die from their injuries than victims with no alcohol impairment.

Fires can be preventable occurrences when Ohioans take control of their fire safety, Marshal Woltz urges each citizen to follow these tips:

  • Avoid abusing alcohol or other drugs, especially while smoking
  • Make sure your home is equipped with working smoke alarms and that all alarms are tested at least monthly.
  • Use only a deep dish ashtray with a solid base and never allow it to rest on the arm of upholstered furniture
  • Douse cigarettes or ashtray contents with water before disposing of them in the trash
  • Never smoke in bed or allow other family members or guests in your home to smoke in bed

“Because of today’s advanced fire suppression technology, many people are taking advantage of residential sprinkler systems. These systems, designed to extinguish the fire before it grows out of control, are a relatively inexpensive way to provide an even greater safety environment for your family,” adds Marshal Woltz.

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