Consumption of alcohol has become a deeply rooted social norm in many countries across the globe. Alcohol products are widely advertised, easily available and packaged under different labels to suit the needs of varying income groups. However, consumption of alcohol needs to be avoided, since it has been linked to various diseases such as cardiovascular problems, cancer, etc. Moreover, alcohol has been linked to various forms of unintentional injuries and fatalities such as those resulting from drowning, accidental falls, motor vehicle accidents, and fire accidents.
Unintentional injuries are one of the major adverse fallouts of alcohol consumption. One of the most common is the injuries caused due to fire accidents. Alcohol limits our vision and hearing, hinders our ability to think properly, and slows down our reactions. It affects bodily movements and coordination and causes disorientation. It can make us lose focus and induce drowsiness or sleep. All these factors can contribute to various accidents including fire accidents.
Home fire accidents are one of the leading causes of deaths in the United States. And among these, around 40 to 50 percent have been linked with consumption of alcohol. To understand such huge risks involved, let’s take a look at how consumption of alcohol can lead to fire accidents.
Statistical data reveals that cooking while intoxicated is a leading cause of fire accidents. There are so many things that can go wrong when an intoxicated person is near to open flames or other cooking equipment such as ovens, toasters, etc. It is possible that the inebriated person may spill their drink over the flames, which can cause an instant fire accident. However, the most common cause of the fire is when inebriated people start cooking something and later leave it unattended. They might either forget what they were doing or may pass out or fall asleep due to the intoxication. When left unattended, the cooking items eventually catch fire and may spread fast.
Various fire safety organizations have recommended that people should avoid cooking if they are intoxicated. Drinking in a bar or a pub is considered a lot safer than drinking at home. In case you are drinking at home, it is advisable that you pick-up or order your food from outside. Alcohol and cooking just don’t mix and needs to be avoided.
Where there is alcohol, cigarettes or cigars are likely to follow. An intoxicated person may drop a lighted cigarette on the carpet and fail to remember what happened. A lighted matchstick thrown carelessly inside the house can also cause fire accidents. Since alcohol impairs our ability to think clearly, we may not be able to understand the implications of our actions.
Consumption of alcohol has been linked to violent crimes and arson is one of most common outcomes. Scientists have theorized that alcohol may cause some people to indulge in criminal activities such as arson. In arson cases involving residential fires, is usually done with the intention to hurt or kill someone. Alcohol has shown to influence certain individuals in a way that they tend to do things that they would normally avoid when sober. Among individuals with a criminal bent of mind, alcohol tends to give credence to their irrational beliefs. This prompts them to indulge in criminal activities such as arson. A number of alcohol-induced arson cases have been witnessed among people who were facing socio-economic deprivation. In some cases, alcohol-induced arson has also been linked to people who were trying to defraud insurance companies through bogus fire claims.
Inability to detect smoke and fire:
By numbing our senses or by making us feel drowsy or sleepy, alcohol can prevent us from detecting fires. This is especially true in cases where smoke and fire alarms may not be installed or may not be working properly. It is also possible that heavy consumption of alcohol may have resulted in unconsciousness. In such a state, poisonous fumes such as carbon-monoxide may completely paralyze an inebriated person. It can be fatal if exposed to longer durations. Inability to detect fire can allow small fires to spread rapidly and engulf the entire house.
Inability to fight fire:
When confronted with a fire, an inebriated person may not have the physical and mental capability to effectively fight the fire. For example, they may not be able to use the fire extinguisher in the right manner. It is also possible that they may display sloppy behavior that may actually cause the fire to intensify. When faced with a fire situation, an inebriated person may not know what to do exactly. They may not be able to call the emergency number or go out and request help from someone else. Their indecision will allow the fire to spread, resulting in more damage to the property.
Inability to escape:
When a sober person encounters a fire-like situation, they may be able to get out of the house and save themselves. However, when an inebriated person encounters a fire, they may get confused about what to do next. Depending on the quantum of alcohol consumption, they may take longer to understand what’s actually happening. Moreover, due to their subdued motor skills, they might not be able to find their way out of the house. They may trip and fall and get trapped. If they fall, it can cause injuries that will further restrict their movement. A combination of these factors can lead to burn injuries. It can also be fatal if help does not arrive soon.
Providing treatment to inebriated burn patients is also a problem. They may not be able to take proper care of their burn wounds and certain drugs may not respond properly or have side effects. There are issues with the recovery process as well since people who consume alcohol tend to have reduced immunity. They may take longer to heal and may require more medication, in comparison to an individual who does not consume alcohol. With so much at risk, people should take preventive measures while consuming alcohol to ensure that these fire accidents do not occur.