The recent number of fatalities involving seniors smoking in bed serves as a reminder to all citizens to use caution when smoking. According to information provided by Peter J. Mulvihill, fire marshal for the state of Nevada, there have been 14 fire fatalities in the state since January; five have occurred in the city of Las Vegas, seven in Clark County total. Of the five fatalities in Las Vegas, four involved senior citizens and careless smoking could not be ruled out in all cases. The fifth fatality consisted of a young child playing with matches or lighters.
Smoking related fires not only cause deaths, but injuries and substantial damage as well. Areas that attributed to the senior citizens’ deaths included smoking near medical oxygen, falling asleep or being under the influence of medication and/or alcohol.
The fires that occurred in Las Vegas this year that involved smoking material includes:
May 10, 2013 – A senior citizen was seriously injured after falling asleep while smoking, resulting in smoking material falling onto nearby medical oxygen tubing.
May 8, 2013 – A senior citizen dies in an apartment fire at the Rosewood Townhomes, appears to have been smoking in bed.
April 23, 2013 – A senior citizen dies as a result of smoking while using medical oxygen in his Daisy Petal Street apartment.
April 10, 2013 – A senior citizen dies in her apartment at the Destinations at Valley View apartment complex due to careless smoking.
Jan. 17, 2013 – A senior citizen dies in a house fire and three others are hospitalized after a fire starts in a bedroom where the senior citizen is bedridden. Careless smoking could not be ruled out.
There were similar incidents in 2012:
Dec. 14 – A senior citizen died in a two-alarm fire at the Sunrise Garden Apartments; careless smoking could not be ruled out.
Nov. 24 – A senior citizen dies in a two-alarm apartment fire at the Alpine Village apartments due to careless smoking.
In addition, this year, one child died and another was seriously burned after playing with fire. Children playing with matches or lighters are one of the leading causes of fires in the city and continues to be a major problem across the county. Matches and lighters should be locked where children do not have access to them.
Fire safety education talks have been ongoing at many senior citizen facilities and apartment complexes to educate citizens on how to prevent smoking related incidents.
Las Vegas Fire & Rescue will continue to meet with senior citizens to recommend safety tips on how to prevent fires, which include:
• Do not smoke while using or after using medical oxygen.
• Do not smoke in bed or if you feel sleepy.
• Do not smoke while under the influence of medications or alcohol.
• Use an approved ash tray while smoking
• Discard smoking material properly by soaking it before placing it in trash containers or flush it down the toilet.
• Be careful smoking outside during Fire Weather Warning days of during Red Flag warnings.
• Always have an approved, operating smoke alarm in the home.
More information is available about smoking safety by calling the Public Education & Information Office at Las Vegas Fire & Rescue: (702) 229-0331.