Safely dispose of your smoking materials

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Smoking materials and planters - keep your butt out of it - plant pots are not ashtrays

Did you know that using a plant pot as an ashtray could start a fire? The potting plant soil could insulate the cigarette butt instead of extinguishing it. Many potting soil mixes on the market today can often contain more organic material than inorganic material. For example, potting soil can include shredded wood, bark, and/or peat moss with a minimal amount of "real" soil (dirt).

When you use a dried out plant pot as an ashtray, it will work to insulate the lit cigarette. The soil heats to ignition temperature and begins to smoulder. Smouldering can continue for several hours, and when sufficient oxygen is available, the material can break into flame. If other combustible materials are in close proximity to the planter, it may become involved resulting in a serious fire.

Safety tips:

  • Use a metal can with sand or a commercially-made ashtray to extinguish smoking materials instead.
  • Keep planters well-watered to reduce flammability and remove dead plants to lessen available potential fuel for a fire.
  • Planters should not rest on or against flammable surfaces such as a wood deck or siding.
  • Stored peat moss should be protected from contact with heat sources.
  • Should a fire begin, thoroughly wet the contents of the planter. Empty the contents on a non-flammable surface and spread them to verify that all substances have been extinguished. In a garden bed, use a rake or shovel to separate the burning peat, and then apply water.  

Butt being put out in planter

Stop fires before they happen!

According to the Alberta Fire Commissioner, cooking, smoking materials and arson are the top three known causes of home fires in Alberta. The kitchen area, yard/patio/terrace and sleeping areas are the top three areas of fire origins.

Don’t forget these three important safety rules:

  1. It's important that everyone in your home knows some simple fire prevention strategies that can keep your family safe. 
  2. Make sure all family members know how to get out of your house safely in the case of a fire. Plan your fire escape routes.
  3. Test your Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Detectors once a month. Change your batteries during the time change in spring and fall to help you remember. Carbon Monoxide Detectors do not replace the need for prevention through yearly maintenance and inspection of heating systems and appliances.