The festive season is a time when many of us enjoy celebrating with family and friends. If your festivities include alcohol there are serious safety issues to consider. Here are some practical ways in which sensible drinking can help keep you, your family, and your property, safe from fire.
Alcohol and Fire Safety
Food and drink are often central to celebrations. Remember, don't leave cooking unattended and if you are the cook, wait until you have finished cooking before you have a drink.
Never smoke in bed, especially if you have been drinking. Smoking and drinking alcohol increase the risk of fire. It's all too easy to fall asleep with a cigarette still burning.
Don't leave candles unattended. Make sure they are secured in a stable holder and positioned away from fabrics and curtains. Take extra care if you have been drinking and always make sure candles are properly extinguished.
If you have visitors staying in your home, make sure they are familiar with your escape plan and have access to door and window keys. It is especially important if your visitors have been drinking alcohol, that they know how to get out quickly in an emergency.
It's easy to forget your nightly bedtime routine if you've had a drink. If you are planning a night of festivities, write a reminder beforehand and post it somewhere you will notice it before bed, such as the bedroom door. Make sure that electrical and kitchen appliances are switched off and that cigarettes and candles are extinguished. Put up fireguards, and make sure that Christmas or decorative lights are not left on.
Remember, drinking alcohol increases your risk of having a fire and reduces your ability to respond in an emergency situation. Don't get so drunk that you can't look after yourself,your family or your property.
The following tips will help you and your friends and family to enjoy alcohol sensibly during the party season.
If you're hosting
Alcohol on an empty stomach makes people drunk more quickly. Offer something to eat - dips and carrot sticks, cheese and crackers are good alternatives to salty snacks which make people more thirsty.
Have non-alcoholic drinks available and make sure they are just as visible as the alcoholic drinks. Mention them to guests when offering a drink.
Wait until your guests' glasses are empty before you re-fill them. And if someone says no to a re-fill, don't insist.
Be prepared:If someone has too much to drink
• have phone numbers for taxis ready
• have a designated driver - someone sober to drive people home
• make up your spare bed to let someone stay if they need to
Don't let your guests drive home if they have had a drink. Never offer an alcoholic drink to anyone who is driving.
If you're going out
If you're out for the night, decide on a limit of how much you plan to drink and stick to it.
Round-buying often means you drink more than you want. Skip some rounds by drinking more slowly. You could say you'd rather get your own drink.
Slow down or choose smaller drinks such as a half instead of a pint.
Drink water or soft drinks in between alcoholic drinks to dilute the alcohol.
Stronger drinks and larger pub measures can make it difficult to know just how much you're drinking. Learn the strengths of your drinks so you can stick to your own limits.
Top up your spirits with more mixer, try spritzers or choose shandy rather than beer. Darker drinks like red wine, brandy and whisky give worse hangovers because of higher concentrations of chemicals called congeners.
Find something else to do while you drink, like darts, or pool, dancing or pub quizzes. This will distract you from drinking and help you to drink more slowly.
Avoid top-ups - it is hard to keep track of how much you are drinking if your glass is repeatedly topped up.
Don't let anyone pressurise you into having another drink - have excuses planned such as 'No thanks, I've had enough - I've got a lot on tomorrow.'
Never offer an alcoholic drink to anyone who is driving.
If you're planning to drink leave your car at home. Pre plan your journey home and don't walk home alone - pre book a taxi.
For more safety information
Alcohol Safety Leaflets
Winter Safety Leaflets
WINTER FIRE SAFETY ADVICE (Adobe PDF: 760 KB)
- Heating your home and keeping warm
- What to do if the electricity fails
FIRE SAFETY IN THE HOME (Adobe PDF: 370 KB)
- Choosing your smoke alarm
- How to make sure your smoke alarm works
- Fitting and maintiaining your smoke alarm
- How to prevent common fires
- Plan a safe escape
- Make a bedtime check!
FIRE SAFETY FOR PARENTS & CHILD CARERS (Adobe PDF: 421 KB)
- Reducing risk to children
- What your children should know
- Have an escape plan
FIRE SAFETY IN SHARED OR RENTED ACCOMMODATION (Adobe PDF: 170 KB)
- Landlords' obligations to keep your home safe from fire
- Smoke alarms save lives
- Be extra careful with electrics
- Stay safe with candles and cigarettes
- Plan your escape route