Did you know the risk of dying in a home structure fire caused by smoking materials rises with age? Listen to these tips on WKZO radio from our founder Lt. Michael McLeieer, President of E.S.C.A.P.E. on ways to properly extinguish smoking materials and prevent a home fire!
Michigan and Alabama lead the nation in deadly home fires, according to new data from the U.S Fire Administration.
Between Jan. 1 and Feb. 1, 19 Michigan residents lost their lives in house fires. Three of those deaths happened in West Michigan, including a 57-year-old woman who died in a house fire in Wyoming Saturday, a 77-year-old woman who died in a Muskegon house fireon Jan. 11, and a 9-year-old girl killed in a mobile home fire in Emmett Township on Jan. 10.
However, the number of West Michigan home fire deaths is down 40 percent from last year, according to ESCAPE.
Fire departments have recorded at least a dozen instances where West Michigan residents have escaped a burning home because of a smoke alarm installed as part of WOTV 4 Women’s Operation Save A Life campaign.
In 2015, a record 103 people lost their lives in Michigan house fires.
As the temps drop, the chance for a home fire increases. In fact, heating is the #2 cause for home fires. Firefighter Michael McLeieer from E.S.C.A.P.E. talks with Jeremy Lawrence on the AM 590 WKZO Morning Show this morning.
Michigan ranks #4 in the country for home fire deaths so far in 2015. The most common factor in most fire fatalities were homes that did not have working smoke alarms.
Working smoke alarms reduce the risk of dying in a fire by as much as 60%.
Adults over 65 are TWICE as likely to die in a home fire and seniors over age 85 are FOUR times as likely to die in a home fire.
Here are some additional fire safety reminders to practice in the home:
Give space heaters space. Keep space heaters at least 3 feet away from anything that can catch fire (furniture, drapes, newspapers). Unplug space heaters when you leave the room or you go to bed.
Smoke alarms save lives. Install and maintain smoke alarms and batteries on every level of the home and inside and outside the sleeping areas. Replace alarms which are older than 10 years in age and change the batteries twice a year (when the clocks are moved forward in the Spring or moved back in the Fall).
Keep older adults safe from fire. Older adults, especially those with mobility issues, should consider sleeping on the main level of the home and near an exit, so rapid escape is possible during fire or smoke conditions.
With the winter of 2015 wearing on with increasingly frigid temperatures, State Fire Marshal Richard Miller urges fire safety for all Michiganders, especially the elderly who are most at risk when it comes to fire.
“It is so important to talk about fire safety with our elderly parents, grandparents, friends or neighbors,” said Miller. “Start with making sure they have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Go over fire safety practices and develop a fire escape plan with them. These are the things that will have the greatest impact on their ability to prevent or survive a fire.”
Miller said non-working or missing smoke alarms were the common reasons for many of Michigan’s home fires and related fatalities, and noted that having working smoke alarms may reduce the risk of dying in a fire by as much as 60 percent.
“Install smoke alarms next to sleeping areas and on every level of the home. Interconnect them so when one sounds, they all do,” said Miller. “Test alarms monthly and change batteries annually. For the deaf or hard of hearing, consider installing smoke alarms that use a flashing light or a bed shaker to alert them of a fire emergency.”
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, adults over age 65 are more than twice as likely to die in fires. Seniors over age 85 are more than four times as likely to die in a fire. Older adults are at higher risk because their ability to respond to or escape a fire is often slower due to physical limitations.
Many precautions can be taken to help ensure fire safety, including:
- Smoking is the number one cause of home fires that kills older adults.
- Smoke outdoors when permissible and never smoke when using medical oxygen or near the presence of oxygen tanks.
- Fires caused by cooking are the leading cause of fire-related injuries in the elderly.
- Never leave cooking unattended.
- Wear short sleeves or roll them up so they don’t catch on fire.
- Never lean over a lit burner.
- Keep anything that can burn away from the stove.
- If a pan catches fire, slide a lid over it and turn off the burner.
- Turn off the stove if you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time.
- Have a licensed electrician inspect the electrical system to be sure it is safe and meets the applicable Michigan Electrical Code requirements.
- Use light bulbs that match the recommended wattage on the lamp or light fixture.
- Plug major appliances directly into a wall outlet.
- Do not use cracked or worn extension cords; do not overload cords.
- Have the furnace inspected by a professional every year.
- Never use the oven or stove to heat your home.
- Unplug a space heater if you leave the room or go to bed; keep it at least three feet away from anything that can burn.
- Make sure the heater has an automatic shut-off if it tips over.
- Never leave candles unattended.
- Place them in sturdy holders away from anything that can burn.
- Never use them in bedrooms or where medical oxygen is being used.
- Always use a flashlight, not a candle in an emergency.
Practice an escape plan
- Know and practice two ways out of every room in your home.
- Practice unlocking and opening the windows and doors.
- If you use a wheel chair or walker, check all the exit routes in advance to be sure you can get through doorways. If not, map out acceptable escape routes and discuss your escape plans with your family, the building manager or neighbors.
- Keep eyeglasses, keys, hearing aids, and a phone within reach next to your bed.
- Your first priority in fire is always to get out and stay out. Do not stop to call the fire department until you are safe outside.
- Never try and fight the fire yourself and do not stop to gather personal belongings.
- If there’s smoke, stay as low to the floor as possible and cover your mouth.
- If in an apartment building or nursing home, always use the stairways to get out – never use the elevator.
- Call for 911 if you cannot escape or are attempting to get out.
Adults over age 60 comprise 20 percent (20.2%) of Michigan’s population. More than 32 percent (32.8%) of all Michigan households have someone age 60 or older living in them.
If you know of someone who is in need of a free smoke alarm or have questions about smoke alarms, email email@example.com.