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A week to talk about family fire safety in the home

State officials recommended families review fire safety plans at home during National Community Risk Reduction Week, which started Monday and extended through Sunday.

“The number one thing that families should focus on is creating a fire escape plan,” said Orlene Hawks, director of the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. “Develop your plan and then practice it often. If a fire occurs in your home, get out, stay out and then call for help. It is important to teach our family members not to go back inside the house for any reason.”

Based on fatal fire data collected by LARA’s Bureau of Fire Services, a total of 123 Michigan residents died in 102 residential home fires in 2020. Most of Michigan’s fire deaths happen overnight, with nearly 50% of fire deaths resulting from fires that started in the living room, 17% of fires that started in the kitchen, and 18% of fires that started in bedrooms.

“It is important for Michigan residents to recognize that fires can impact anyone,” State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer said. “By having practical and essential preventive measures in place, people can help avoid fires in their homes and also be better prepared if a fire does occur.”

LARA’s Bureau of Fire Services offers these tips to make homes more fire-safe:

— Install smoke alarms on every level of the home and inside every sleeping area and check the alarms by pushing the test button every month.

— Never smoke in bed; keep lighters and cigarettes away from children.

— Never leave lit candles unattended; place them in sturdy holders on uncluttered surfaces, keeping them at least 1 foot away from anything that can burn, including curtains, bedding, furniture, and carpeting.

— Have fireplaces, chimneys, wood stoves and coal stoves inspected annually by a professional and cleaned if necessary. Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended.

— Use caution when using space heaters; never leave them unattended, keep them at least 3 feet away from anything that can burn, and place them on a hard, nonflammable surface, such as a ceramic tile floor.

— Do not overload extension cords and be sure to replace frayed extension cords.

— Never overload electrical outlets; plug only one heat-producing appliance into an outlet at a time.

— Major appliances should not be plugged in using extension cords or plug strips; plug appliances and space heaters directly into the wall electrical outlet.

— Clean the dryer lint screen after each load — lint is extremely flammable.

— Have fire extinguishers in the home and know how to use them.

— Make sure all doors and windows leading outside can open easily and are not blocked by furniture or clutter.

— Sleep with the bedroom door closed, with a smoke alarm in your bedroom; this can save lives by reducing toxic smoke levels and slowing down the spread of fire and smoke into bedrooms.

— If you need to escape out a window, close the door between you and the fire before opening the window to escape, as a closed door slows down the spread of fire and smoke as you escape.

For more safety information, go to the Bureau of Fire Services’ website at www.michigan.gov/miprevention.

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