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Take a proactive approach towards fire safety

LARA Director Orlene Hawks and State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer urge Michiganders to take a proactive approach towards home fire safety as they spend more time at home.

Since January 1, 2020, 57 people have died as the result of a residential fire in Michigan — inclusing two in Escanaba. The Bureau of Fire Services has seen a 41 percent increase in the number of fire fatalities from this time last year. In nine of the 15 fatal fires in April, the fire was burning in an area where the occupants could not use the front door to escape and only three of the fires in April had working smoke alarms.

“As we spend more time at home right now, it is important to take this opportunity to do two very important things – one, make sure your house has working smoke alarms and two, develop a home fire escape plan,” said Hawks. “Practice the plan often and make sure that all family members – young and old – recognize the sound of the smoke alarm and know what to do in case of a fire.”

“Every family needs to talk about what would happen if a fire in their home prevented them from using the front or back door,” said Sehlmeyer. “This discussion and planning could be the difference between escaping from a home fire or dying in one.”

Below are topics that should be covered during your home fire escape planning session:

– Consider how you would escape from a fire in every room of your home and be sure to have two ways out, as the fire may block your main exit.

– If you must escape through a bedroom window, it is important that you remember to close the bedroom door before opening the window. This step will block airflow to the fire and provide you with protection from heat and smoke as you exit.

– Make sure all of your windows open properly and that everyone in your home knows how to unlock and open the windows.

– Consider purchasing an escape ladder to exit through a second story window.

– If a smoke alarm sounds and there is smoke in the house, everyone needs to exit the home as quickly as possible and meet at a pre-designated meeting spot away from the house, such as a mailbox, a large tree, or a barn. Only call 911 after you have exited the home.

– If people are sleeping in a bedroom and the fire is in the living area downstairs, it is going to make using the front door as an exit impossible. Gather your family members into a bedroom and close the bedroom door. Open the window, push the screen out and escape through the window using a portable escape ladder.

– If your family doesn’t have an escape ladder and needs to go out a second floor window to escape, it is important to remember that homes often have windows that you can exit onto front porches, roofs or balconies. The fire department has ladders and can get you down from there. Be sure to identify these rooms with windows during your escape planning process. That way if a fire occurs you can move to those rooms, close the door, and then open the window and escape.

– If a bedroom window will not open and you need to escape from a fire by going out the window, first make sure the bedroom door is closed. Next, find an object or a piece of furniture that can break the glass. Use that object to clear all the glass out of the window frame before climbing out the window.

Fire Marshal Sehlmeyer recommends the following resources to help you create your escape plan:

– Creating an escape plan

– Life saving tips for escaping from a second story window

– Escape ladders

For more fire safety information and safety tips, visit the MI Prevention website at www.michigan.gov/MIPrevention.

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