Ecig use cuts house fire fatalities

Posted 5th November 2014 by junglist
Recent press has been shouting out the dangers of electronic cigarettes and their risk as a fire hazard.

“E-cig charging devices now start one fire each week” and “E-Cigarette Danger: Fire Officers Issue Safety Guidelines After Rise In Fires” are included in the attention grabbing and shocking headlines.  Surely only a fool would mess with these potentially home-threatening devices.  You’d have to be mental to be a vaper.

As usual the mainstream press have grabbed some data and used it to create scary and shocking headlines that will appeal to their readers and paint e-cig use in a bad light once more. 

“Electronic cigarettes have been linked to more than 100 fires, new figures reveal.” stated the Daily Mail.  Indeed, data from 43 fire services show that they have attended 113 calls to incidents relating to electronic cigarettes.  You have to read on to learn that this is over a two year period…

When you compare this with fires caused by traditional cigarettes the numbers certainly aren’t as dramatic.  According to data released by the Government title Fire statistics Great Britain 2011 to 2012:

“Smokers’ materials (i.e. cigarettes, cigars or pipe tobacco) were the most frequent source of ignition causing accidental dwelling fire fatalities, accounting for over a third of all accidental dwelling fire fatalities in 2011-12. For every 1,000 accidental dwelling fires where smokers’ materials were the source of ignition, 31 people were killed in 2011-12.”

The total figure was 84 fatal casualties for the period through 2,673 fires caused by old fashioned nicotine delivery systems.  Let’s do some rough maths to make a story. 

  • The total adult population of the UK in 2011 was 52,085,000 (source - ONS)
  • No figures for 2011 but in 2012 20% of the adult population smoked giving around 10,000,000 smokers (source - ASH)
  • Accidental fires caused by Smokers’ materials in 2011/12 – 2,673 (source - Gov.uk)
  • Fatal casualties from fires caused by Smokers’ materials in 2011/12 – 84 (source as above)

Assuming the Fire Statistics meaning of 2011/2012 is still a 12 month reporting period (I couldn’t find the time-span so help me out if wrong) then we get:

267 accidental fires per million smokers per year
8.4 deaths per million smokers per year.

Now vaping:

  • 2,100,000 ecig users in the UK in 2014 (source – ASH)
  • Accidental fires caused by e-cigarettes in a single year - 57 (113 over a two year period)
  •  Fatal casualties from fires caused by e-cigarettes – 1

No sources from the last two but again, happy to amend if other data can be pointed out but on with the maths!

27 accidental fires per million vapers per year
0.48 deaths per million vapers per year

So here is another reason to promote vaping – a greater adoption of ecigs will dramatically reduce the number of fatal casualties from house fires.  Tell all your friends – vaping is safer than smoking, we have just proved it.

No-one should belittle the potential of high-power batteries to cause fires, and we are certainly not making light of their dangers.  Most batteries will let you know they are not happy, they get hot.  If a battery gets hot during charging then unplug it immediately and do not use it.  Common sense and care will prevent you from creating another event that can be used to help over-regulate vaping. 

Safety measures could be put in place to prevent incorrect chargers from being used, or for charging mechanisms to cut out above a certain temperature.  But until greater battery safety is introduced to stay safe only use the recommended charger and one from a reputable supplier, invest in a charging bag and never leave a device on charge when you are in bed or not close by.

Top Photo credit: Filter Forge via photopin cc