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Monday, 21 June 2010

Drinking and Cooking related fires a burning issue for the fire and rescue service

This week the North Wales Fire and Rescue Service are guest blogging as part of our ongoing campaign to tackle alcohol abuse. This article by Richard Fairhead, Senior Fire Safety Manager highlights another dimension to the discussion.

North Wales Fire and Rescue Service has recently launched another campaign focussing on drinking and cooking, this time to coincide with the World Cup football tournament.

This initiative is the latest effort in the region to discourage residents from attempting to cook after drinking alcohol.

Statistics across the U.K. show that one in every three fire deaths is drink related, and the majority of accidental domestic fires begin in the kitchen.

In 2007, Sean Bowers, 24, from Penyffordd and Andrew Roberts, 39, from Ruthin, both died following separate fires in their homes both caused by chip pans. Both had been drinking, and had arrived home to cook themselves something to eat. Andrew had finished cooking and had fallen asleep on the couch but failed to turn off the gas. Sean also fell asleep with the chip pan left on the stove. The chip pans overheated and caught fire - Sean and Andrew never woke up.

Leaving cooking unattended is often a recipe for disaster and if you've been drinking you're even more vulnerable as you're at high risk of being distracted of falling asleep. Drink affects people mentally and physically, increasing their likelihood of having a fire and slowing their reaction times when one breaks out.

If you're asleep and a fire breaks out, you're in serious trouble. Just a couple of breaths of fire smoke can be enough to knock you completely unconscious. The smell of smoke doesn't wake up you up - the poisonous gases produced by a fire numb the senses and put you into a deeper sleep. This is why it is essential to have working smoke alarms in your home. Frighteningly, you are also putting the lives of your whole family at risk - a child can die from smoke inhalation in under a minute.

Despite the old proverb 'a watched pot never boils', keeping a close eye on your cooking really will save your life. Whether you've had a few drinks or not, our advice to cooks is quite simply to stand by your pan and get working smoke alarms.

Avoid your lives going up in smoke by following the tips listed below.

- Never cook after drinking - prepare a sandwich or get a takeaway instead.
- Don't leave cooking unattended -a small fire can quickly turn into a life threatening one. A household fire doubles in size every thirty seconds.
- Ensure you have a working smoke alarm in your home, and test them once a week.
- Formulate a fire escape plan to ensure that you and your family know how to escape safely in the event of a fire.

All three fire and rescue services in Wales fit alarms free of charge, and will give fire safety hints and tips as well as helping you design a fire escape plan for your home.

To take advantage of their friendly and informal home visits, residents can book a free Home Safety Check by calling the 24 hour hotline on 0800 1691234 or texting 88365, ensuring they prefix the message with the word HFSC.

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