London Fire Brigade warns of a spike in fires as UK pubs reopen

Since the lockdown, the amount of fires where alcohol was cited as an impairment has dropped by a quarter. Whilst cooking remains a leading cause of alcohol-related fires, there has been a 37% reduction in the number of fires caused by cooking under the influence, which the LFB believes could be attributed to the closure of London’s pubs.

With around one in three people who died in a fire last year having alcohol in their system, there is a concern that the long-awaited reopening of pubs could result in a sudden surge in devastating fires. Even at the best of times cooking can be hard to manage and when you have been drinking alcohol the risk of having an accident increases as your coordination decreases. If you go out for a drink, it’s always best to order a takeaway or eat something that doesn’t involve cooking when you come home.

London Fire Brigade Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, Paul Jennings, said: “As the lockdown eases, we understand that people are excited for the reopening of pubs, bars and restaurants after months of closure, but we urge you to drink responsibly. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can seriously impair your judgements and can put you at a very real risk of having an accident. With more fires likely to start in the kitchen than any other room in the home, it’s best to stay away from cooking if you’ve had a few drinks. If you are heading down to your local pub, eat before you go out or grab a bite to eat there and save yourself from cooking at home.”

The NHS report that after drinking just four to six units of alcohol, the equivalent of around just two standard glasses of wine, the part of your brain associated with judgement and decision making is affected, resulting in more reckless behaviour and affecting your reaction time.

Cigarettes are also one of the most common causes of alcohol-related fires and one of the leading causes of fire fatalities. Never smoke in bed, and avoid smoking on armchairs and sofas, especially if you have been out drinking as alcohol can make you feel drowsy. It’s always safer to smoke outside, but make sure that cigarettes are put out and discarded properly when you have finished smoking.

LFB’s fire safety tips for staying safe when drinking:

  • If you have been drinking alcohol, avoid cooking. Eat before you go out, grab a takeaway or eat something that doesn’t require cooking instead.
  • Take extra care when cooking or smoking if you’re tired, taking prescription drugs or if you’ve been drinking alcohol.
  • Don’t leave cooking unattended on the hob or grill, if you have to leave the kitchen, turn off the heat.
  • Be fabric aware – loose clothing can easily catch fire, so take care not to lean over a hot hob and always keep tea towels and cloths away from the cooker and hob.
  • Never smoke in bed, and avoid smoking on armchairs and sofas – especially if you think you might fall asleep.
  • It's safer to smoke outside, but make sure cigarettes are put right out and disposed of properly.
  • Use proper ashtrays, which can’t tip over and stub cigarettes out properly.
  • Don't balance cigars or cigarettes on the edge of an ashtray, or anything else – they can tip and fall as they burn away and cause a fire.
  • Don’t leave lit pipes or cigarettes unattended.
  • Always empty ashtrays carefully. Make sure smoking materials are out, cold and preferably wet them before throwing into a bin – never use a wastepaper basket.

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