-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
THURSDAY, Sept. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Drinking heavily may
increase a person's risk of dying in a house fire, researchers
When cigarettes are involved the risk of death is even higher,
the Australian investigators added. They noted, however, some
victims died needlessly and could have survived had they reacted in
In conducting the study, the team analyzed coroners' records for
95 fire victims in Australia. The researchers found that 58 percent
of the victims tested positive on blood-alcohol tests -- often with
extremely high alcohol levels.
Most of the victims in the study were alone at the time of the
fire. Nearly half of the drunk victims were sleeping.
The study, published in the September issue of the
Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, also revealed that the drunk victims were less likely than those who were sober to have had obstacles preventing their escape from the fire, such as barred windows or a blocked exit.
As a result, at least some of them might have survived had they
been roused in time, the report indicated. Smoke detectors or
having other people in the house who were sober could also have
prevented some of the deaths, the authors pointed out in a journal
Smoking was the most common culprit behind the deaths of the
drunk victims. The study found that victims who had been drinking
were roughly 4.5 times more likely to have died in fires that
involved "smoking materials," like cigarette butts.
"A key message is that smoking and drinking together constitute a high-risk activity, even in your own home," the study's lead researcher, Dorothy Bruck of Victoria University in Melbourne, said in the news release.
Aside from not combining smoking while drinking, the researchers
advised that people can help reduce their fire risks in a number of
The study authors noted that this high percentage of drunk
house-fire victims is consistent with what's been revealed in other
studies from the United States, Europe and Canada.
The U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has
the health risks of drinking alcohol.
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