12 Days of Holiday Safety: Day 10 = Sobering Facts About Fire

December 23, 2013

Look up alcohol and fire and you’ll find detailed instructions on how to ignite your drink and create flaming cocktails.

But the combination of alcohol and fire is a dangerous mix any way you define it. “Possibly impaired by alcohol” is identified as a contributing factor in about 12% of home fire deaths each year. “Possibly impaired by other drug or chemical” was a contributing factor in another 5% of the deaths.

The data is clear: alcohol consumption and drug use increases the risk of fires and the likelihood that those fires will be fatal.

Madison firefighters regularly respond to fires reported by neighbors who hear an alarm. When crews arrive, they often find occupants of smoke-filled apartments asleep or passed out, unable to respond to the alarm.
“Drunk cooking” and smoking while impaired contribute heavily to the number of fire responses. Drinking responsibly applies to more than your activities behind the wheel.

Fatal fires have steadily decreased over the years through fire safety education and prevention, but individual behaviors remain a difficult barrier.

If you’re hosting a holiday parties, have your guest who smoke light up outside. When the evening is over, tend to ash trays. Before you throw out butts and ashes, make sure they are out – dousing in water or sand is the best way to do that.
Check under furniture cushions and in other places people smoke for cigarette butts that may have fallen out of sight.

The presence of smoke alarms and sprinklers provide ample opportunity to safely escape a fire. Most structures are able to resist fire long enough for an
able-bodied,
alert,
oriented,
unimpaired, and
familiar
…person to self-evacuate.

Plan and practice your escape, then keep yourself, your family, and your guests in condition to use it.

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