DEAR ABBY: I have a very serious problem that could be a matter of life or death. My husband falls asleep while he's smoking cigarettes. I just found another 2-inch-long burn on my sofa. There are 15 burn holes in the carpet in front of the sofa, 10 burn holes on the coffee table - not to mention the burn holes in my sheets and in the carpet beside our bed.

Twice I have been awakened by our fire alarm - and found smoke rolling through the house because he fell asleep while cooking breakfast. The first time, he was cooking bacon, and it burned a 2-foot area on the kitchen floor. The second time, he fell asleep while boiling eggs.This is a constant source of fear and fights in our house. I have begged, pleaded, threatened and have even thrown his clothes on the porch over this, but it keeps happening. Sometimes I catch him, but most of the time, I find another burn hole. A few years ago, he was told he had a disorder called "sleep apnea" - he stops breathing while he's asleep. Could this be related to his problem?

How can I convince him that this is serious, and possibly life-threatening to our entire family? - AFRAID OF FIRE IN LAKE CITY, ARK.

DEAR AFRAID: Please get your husband to a physician before the sun sets on another day! He needs a total evaluation of his physical and mental condition. In the meantime, he should not smoke in the house unless he's supervised. His life, and the lives of everyone in your family, depend upon it.

DEAR ABBY: I have a 5-year-old daughter who is blind. She is constantly confronted with pity - a reaction she does not understand. Strangers come up to her saying, "Oh, bless your heart. You poor little thing!"

Abby, my daughter is NOT a "poor little thing." She is a beautiful, happy, healthy child who cannot figure out why people she has never met before are touching her and feeling sorry for her.

It seems that ignorance still runs rampant in the 1990s, and blind people are still considered helpless. Please, let sighted people know that - like them - blind people will ask for help if and when it is needed, and they do not appreciate being patronized. Contrary to popular belief, blind people can hear, think, speak and feel, and they are not to be pitied. - SANTA ANA PARENT

DEAR PARENT: I have had many letters from sightless people asking me to remind sighted people of the important message in your letter. A major complaint: When a blind person is accompanied by a sighted person while traveling, the sighted person will be asked, "And what will your friend have?"

CONFIDENTIAL TO HURTING IN LAWRENCE, KAN.: It takes a friend and an enemy to really hurt you: the enemy to say something rotten about you, and the "friend" to tell you about it.

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