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Drugs and alcohol

If you have been drinking or taking drugs there is a greater chance you might not wake up if a fire takes hold in your home, particularly if you do not have a working smoke alarm.

The facts

  • Every year we attend a significant number of fires where people have been drinking or taking drugs. Some of the more serious incidents we attend are commonly caused by people drinking alcohol or taking drugs and then falling asleep whilst cooking or smoking.
  • Alcohol and drug abuse are a major cause of accidents and accidental injury.
  • The presence of alcohol and drugs in the body has been shown to increase the severity of injuries from accidents.
  • Research suggests that across the UK more than 50% of fire fatalities within the home involve drink or drug-related behaviour.
  • Being under the influence of drink or drugs makes you more vulnerable.

Intoxication and cooking don't mix

If you are severely intoxicated, you might not wake up if a fire takes hold, particularly if you do not have a working smoke alarm.

Intoxication can also cause drowsiness and confusion, making you less alert to the signs of fire. When you do discover a fire, the alcohol or drugs can heighten feelings of disorientation, making it difficult for you to escape.

Our firefighters have often been called to homes were someone has started cooking after a night out and this has then led to a house fire. We have also attended many fires where someone has fallen asleep with a cigarette and woken to find their home on fire.

In the most severe instances, even where the alarm has been raised and firefighters have been called, drugs and alcohol could prevent you getting out safely before we arrive. A loss of consciousness through smoke inhalation can lead to serious injuries or death.

What you should do

  • Don't drink, take drugs whilst cooking - you could fall asleep and cause a devastating fire.
  • Buy a take-away on the way back from the pub, rather than attempting to cook when you get home.
  • Make sure cigarettes are properly extinguished before you go to sleep. If you must smoke, consider going outside.
  • Ensure a working smoke alarm is installed, as this will greatly increase the chances of you escaping if fire breaks out in your home.
  • Test your smoke alarms weekly. Working smoke alarms save lives. Join us on Facebook, follow #testittuesday on Twitter, or sign up for email alerts to receive your weekly reminder from us.
  • Don't drink so much that you cannot take care of yourself, your family or your home – and the same can be said for taking drugs.
  • Don't drink or take drugs and then attempt to drive - and take care if walking home too.

Be mindful of the serious physical consequences of alcohol and drug abuse;

  • Your ability to resist harming yourself when you may have otherproblems.
  • Your  inhibitions against hurting others will be lowered.
  • You are more likely to have a serious long-term health risks.
  • You are more likely to also be vulnerable to anti-social behaviour and have underlying mental health issues.

How we can help you

We work in partnership with other agencies to identify vulnerable people at risk of causing accidental fires in the home due to drug or alcohol abuse.

We can visit people in their homes in confidence and discuss the services that we can provide to make them safer in case of fire. We can also signpost you to our other partners in order that they can assist.

One of the key things we can do as a Service is to ensure there are working smoke alarms in the property. We can install these free of charge and provide residents with potentially life-saving fire safety advice and interventions.

A working smoke alarm will give you early warning of a fire and vital minutes to escape, although it may be harder for people to respond quickly in an emergency if they have been drinking or taking drugs.

If you are worried about a friend or family member’s drinking or drug taking you can get further advice. If you think they would benefit from us fitting smoke alarms in their property please contact us to make arrangements for a free safe and well check.


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