144% increase in fire-related deaths in Michigan; Many among other people

A significant increase in fire-related deaths has been recorded in Michigan in the first month of 2022. According to the Bureau of Fire Services, fire-related deaths in Michigan have increased by 144% over the same 34 days in 2021. The Bureau recorded 18 fires resulting in 22 deaths. These fire deaths were all accidental and preventable.

Last year, 67% of Michigan’s 107 fire deaths were among adults over 40. Many of these residential fires happened in the evening, with the majority starting in the living room (33%) or in a bedroom (21%). The top three causes of fatal fires in 2021 were: smoking (39%); heating appliances such as space heaters, wood-burning stoves and fireplaces (23%); and cooking (11%).

“It’s important to talk about fire safety with our parents, grandparents, friends and neighbors and help them prepare their homes to be safer against fires. Michigan Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer said. You can start by making sure they have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in their home. Help develop a fire escape plan that takes into account any mobility issues they may have and practice the plan with them. If they smoke or heaters are used, be sure to discuss fire safety tips and that fire safety practices are used. These basic, common sense steps will increase their ability to escape and survive a fire.

“If I could send one message to everyone in Michigan, it would be to ‘get out and stay out’ as soon as possible if a fire breaks out in your home.” said Sehlmeyer.

The following talking points can also facilitate a fire safety discussion with your parents, grandparents, friends and neighbours.

Did you know:

  • Working smoke alarms can reduce the risk of dying in a home fire by up to 60%.
  • Last year, an average of 1,700 home fires involved space heaters, resulting in 80 deaths and 160 injuries, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. They are mainly caused when a heater, usually electric, is placed too close to curtains, bedding or upholstered furniture that has caught fire.
  • The leading cause of fatal fires in Michigan is smoking.

Michigan residents are encouraged to follow these simple tips from the National Fire Protection Association to increase their ability to survive or prevent a fire:

Home Safety Tips:

  • Clear snow from all exterior doors so you can get out quickly in an emergency.
  • Make sure your home has multiple smoke alarms, including smoke alarms in each bedroom and one on each level of your home. Many newer smoke alarms can interconnect smoke alarms so that when one sounds, all smoke alarms sound.
  • Install carbon monoxide (CO) detectors on every level of your home to alert you to high levels of CO.
  • For people who are deaf or hard of hearing, consider installing smoke alarms that use a flashing light or bed vibration device to alert them to a fire emergency.
  • Make sure each smoke alarm is tested monthly and replace 9-volt batteries in smoke alarms at least once a year.
  • Never remove or disable smoke alarms.
  • Close your bedroom doors when you sleep to insulate yourself from fire, heat and toxic smoke.
  • Make sure children and the elderly in your home are familiar with the sound of the smoke detector.
  • have a house fire escape plan that the whole family has practiced, which includes two outings for each room as well as a meeting place outside the house.
  • Make sure you practice and can open and exit windows and doors.
  • Dial 9-1-1 AFTER leaving your home if your smoke or carbon monoxide alarms go off.
  • Never use the stove or oven as a source of heat for your home. The oven is not only a potential fire hazard, but it can also become a source of high levels of carbon monoxide.

Smoking safety tips:

  • Smoking outside. Many things in your home can catch fire if they touch something hot like a cigarette or ashes. It is always safer to smoke outside.
  • Never smoke in bed. Mattresses and bedding can easily catch fire. Don’t smoke in bed because you might fall asleep with a lit cigarette.
  • Put out the cigarettes all the way. Do this every time. Stay away from lit cigarettes and other smoking items.
  • Put water on ashes and cigarette butts to make sure they are completely extinguished before throwing them away.
  • Extinguish cigarettes in an ashtray or bucket with sand.
  • Use ashtrays with wide bases so they don’t tip over and start a fire.
  • Do not smoke after taking medications that make you tired. You may not be able to prevent or escape a fire if you are not vigilant.
  • Never smoke near medical oxygen. Medical oxygen can explode if a flame or spark is nearby. Even if the oxygen is cut off, it can still catch fire.

Heater Safety:

  • Place the heater on a hard, flat, non-flammable surface. These devices are intended to be placed on the floor and not on a table.
  • Heaters should be plugged directly into an electrical outlet.
  • Do not plug another electrical device or extension cord into the same outlet as a heater – this can cause overheating.
  • Never use an extension cord with a space heater.
  • Make sure your heater has an automatic shut-off switch.
  • Keep children and pets three feet away from heaters.
  • Turn off heaters when you leave a room or go to bed.
  • Keep furniture, blankets, and other household items at least three feet from a heater.

Heating Safety Methods:

  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully or have a wood stove installed by a professional. All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside to prevent carbon monoxide buildup inside the home.
  • Clean chimneys do not catch fire. Make sure a professional chimney sweep inspects your solid fuel venting system every year and sweeps and repairs it whenever necessary.
  • Keep a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace to prevent embers or sparks from flying out.
  • Extinguish the fire before going to sleep or leaving your house.
  • Put the ashes in a metal container with a lid, outdoors, at least 3 feet from your house.
  • If you smell natural gas or propane near your gas furnace or heater, do not attempt to light the unit. Leave the house immediately, then dial 9-1-1 and ask the fire department and/or gas company to respond to your home.
  • If you are using a heater that requires kerosene or propane, always use the correct fuel specified by the manufacturer and take the heater outside the home to refuel or change tanks.
  • Keep household furniture, blankets, and other items at least three feet away from fireplaces and woodstoves.

MI Prevention strongly encourages Michigan residents, especially caregivers or anyone caring for someone, to watch the following fire safety video to better help those you care about to increase your chances of surviving a residential fire: https://youtu.be/hj–dLojQag.

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