Cannabis and Fire Safety
Like the rest of the world, we at Herban Planet were shocked and horrified as we watched footage of the Grenfell Tower fire. It was a devastatingly unthinkable tragedy and served as a stark reminder of the importance of fire safety. The London blaze most likely spread due to highly flammable cladding, but there are many causes for residential building fires. Though smoking cigarettes is the leading culprit, the cannabis community has had our share of accidents. This year alone, indoor grow operations have started at least two apartment fires, and a butane extraction lab most likely caused another. Everyone remembers, “Stop, drop, and roll,” from elementary school, but there’s a lot more anyone in a multi-unit building needs to know in case of an emergency. Let’s look at how to be prepared and make a safety plan, and what to do if a fire does start in the building or your apartment.
- Toss any cords that are frayed, do not run them under the rugs or carpet, and, if you have pets, buy a cord protector to prevent chewing. Avoid using extension cords whenever possible.
- Don’t overuse your outlets: get a surge protector for your appliances.
- Test your smoke detector monthly. Do not turn it off because you’re having a huge smoke session and don’t want to alert the neighbors. There are extra-loud smoke detectors with flashing lights so that the hearing impaired can see the alarm and feel the vibrations.
- If you have a space heater, keep it a minimum of three feet from anything flammable.
- Do not leave any incense or candles burning when you leave the apartment; not even a tea light. If you have cats, keep candles out of their reach.
- If you throw a roach in the trash, run it under the tap first. Make sure there are no embers in your ash when you get rid of it, too.
- When you finish a bowl, empty it into an ashtray and put the contents out. Don’t leave it to sit there smoking.
- Get a fire extinguisher and learn how to use it.
- Talk to your landlord. Ask about your building’s evacuation plan and whether it is considered “fireproof.” This means that the building is designed so that if a fire starts, it will remain contained in its initial location instead of spreading throughout.
- Know all your exits and practice getting to them until you can do it blindfolded.
- Make sure you have two plans of escape in case one exit is unreachable.
- Keep a flashlight, hand towel and bottle of water near your front door, so you can grab them in a hurry.
- If you have roommates, choose a designated location to meet up in advance.
In Case of a Fire
- The FDNY advises anyone whose apartment is on fire or knows they are in a non-fireproof building to get out immediately.
- Keep as low to the ground as possible and hold a wet rag to your mouth and nose to minimize smoke inhalation.
- Do not use an elevator under any circumstances.
- Listen for communication from emergency personnel if your building has a centralized alarm system.
- Get to your designated location and stay there.
- If you are in a fireproof building and your door is warm to the touch, FDNY recommends staying inside your unit, sealing anywhere smoke can get in, and giving the fire department your exact location.
- Turn off your AC system.
- Open your window but do not break it; you may need to close it later.
- Use a light colored rag or towel to wave to emergency personnel.
- If your door feels cool to the touch, open it and follow your escape plan, according to USFA.
Protect yourself, your loved ones, and your neighbors by being a responsible cannabis consumer and making your apartment fire-hazard free. Look into your local ordinances and make sure your landlord is providing all the safety features they are required to. Test your fire alarm monthly and make a habit of practicing your escape plan. Hopefully, you’ll never need to use it, but you never know.