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Heavy drinkers may die needlessly in house fires
Date:9/14/2011

ving areas, rather than just hallways, Bruck says. In general, smoke alarms are less effective at rousing people who've been drinking heavily.

"Our research has also shown that certain changes to improve the sound that smoke alarms make, and better alarm locations, may arouse more sleeping intoxicated people in the case of a fire," Bruck says. But, she adds, experts don't know how loud smoke alarms, even with the improved signal, need to be to wake a person with very high blood alcohol levels.

Another potential way to prevent fire deaths is to use so-called fire-safe cigarettes, Bruck notes. The cigarettes self-extinguish if a smoker sets one down and forgets about it or falls asleep while smoking.

All of the fatalities in the current study were among adults who died in house fires in the Australian state of Victoria between 1998 and 2006. The high percentage of intoxicated victims (58%) is consistent with what's been seen in studies from the United States, Canada and Europe.

In recent U.S. studies, anywhere from 40% to 55% of people who died in fires were intoxicated, based on blood alcohol tests.


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Contact: Dorothy Bruck
Dorothy.Bruck@vu.edu.au
61-428-139-884
Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs
Source:Eurekalert

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