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Drugs and Alcohol

Gone up in smoke

The Facts

  • Alcohol and drug abuse is 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 nationally 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.
  • Every year we attend a large number of alcohol and drug related fires. The cause is usually people drinking alcohol and then falling asleep whilst cooking or smoking.

Intoxication and Cooking don't mix

If you have been drinking you might not wake up when a fire takes hold, particularly if you do not have a working smoke alarm. Even when the alarm is raised and firefighters enter a home, you could have already lost consciousness and died through smoke inhalation.

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

Firefighters have often been called to homes were someone has started cooking after a night out and caused a house fire or where someone has fallen asleep with a cigarette and woken to find their home on fire.

The video below illustrates the dangers of cooking while intoxicated.

Our Top Tips

  1. Don't drink and fry/cook - you could fall asleep and cause a devastating fire.
  2. Buy food on the way back from the pub, rather than attempting to cook when you get home.
  3. Make sure cigarettes are properly extinguished before you go to sleep.
  4. Ensure a working smoke alarm is installed, as this will greatly increase the chances of escaping if fire breaks out in your home.
  5. Test your smoke alarms weekly. Working smoke alarms save lives. Join us on Facebook or Twitter to receive your weekly reminder #testittuesday.
  6. Don't drink so much that you cannot take care of yourself, your family or your home.
  7. Don't drink and drive and take care if walking home.

Physical Consequences of Alcohol and Drug Abuse

  • Drink and drugs lowers people's ability to resist harming themselves when they have problems.
  • Drink and drugs can lower people's inhibitions against hurting others.
  • Many serious accidents are drink and drug related.
  • There are long-term health risks.

Many drug and alcohol users are also vulnerable to anti-social behaviour and may have underlying mental health issues.

How We Can Help

Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service is working in partnership with other agencies to identify vulnerable people at risk of causing accidental fires in the home due to their 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 will also refer issues 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 fit these free of charge and provide residents with potentially life-saving fire safety advice.

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.

Alcohol & Road Safety

In recent years there has been an increase in the number of people choosing to drink at home rather than in the pub. The economic downturn may have contributed to this - it is much cheaper to drink at home than in a bar, club or restaurant. And when drinking at home there's always the temptation to finish the bottle or pour generous 'home' measures.

Virtually all alcohol sold for home consumption carries the 'Know your limits' labelling. Consumers can use the label and our web based drink calculator to work out roughly how long the alcohol they've consumed will remain in their body. Please visit

Our 'Quiet night in' campaign will run through September and October 2013, at the time of year when the nights draw in and people begin to think of the winter months when there are many 'quiet nights' in front of the TV.

The campaign is designed to remind normally-responsible drivers of the danger of unwittingly being 'over the limit' on the school run or journey to work, after a quiet night in and a few drinks.

Even a very small amount of alcohol can affect your ability to drive safely. The best advice is not to drink at all if you are driving, and to avoid heavy drinking if you are driving the following day.

There is much more information on the effects of alcohol over a long period which can be found by visiting the following link

Useful Links

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Think Sprinkler Campaign

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Smoke Alarms Save Lives

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