Fire Fatalities in Michigan on the Rise – Here’s What the Data Tells Us
(Michigan LARA, Feb. 27, 2022)
A significant rise in fire-related deaths were recorded in Michigan during the first month of 2022. According to the Bureau of Fire Services, fire-related deaths across Michigan are up 144% compared to the same 34 days in 2021. The Bureau has recorded 18 fires resulting in 22 deaths. These fire deaths were all accidental and preventable.
Last year 67 percent of the 107 fire fatalities in Michigan involved adults over the age of 40. Many of these residential fires occurred in the evening with a 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 devices such as space heaters, wood stoves and fireplaces (23%); and cooking (11%).
“It is important to talk about fire safety with our parents, grandparents, friends and neighbors, and help them prepare their home to be more fire safe.” said Michigan Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer. You can start with making sure they have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in their home. Help develop a fire escape plan that takes into consideration any mobility issues they may have and practice the plan with them. If they smoke or if heaters are being used, make sure to discuss fire safety tips and that fire safe practices are being used. These basic, common-sense steps will increase their ability to escape and survive a fire.”
“If I could get one message out to all Michiganders, it would be to ‘get out and stay out’ as quickly as possible if a fire occurs in your home.” said Sehlmeyer.
The following talking points may also help facilitate a fire safety discussion with your parents, grandparents, friends, and neighbors.
Did you know:
- Working smoke alarms may reduce the risk of dying in a home fire by as much as 60 percent.
- Last year an average of 1,700 house fires involved portable space heaters, resulting in 80 deaths and 160 injuries, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. They’re mostly caused when a space heater—typically an electric one—is placed too close to curtains, bedding, or upholstered furniture that ignited.
- The leading cause of fatal fires in Michigan involves 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 away from all exterior doors so you can get out fast in the event of an emergency.
- Make sure your home has multiple smoke alarms, including smoke alarms in each sleeping area and one on each level of your home. Many new smoke alarms can interconnect smoke alarms, so when one sounds all smoke alarms sound.
- Install carbon monoxide (CO) detectors on each level of your home to alert you of high levels of CO.
- For the deaf or hard of hearing, consider installing smoke alarms that use a flashing light or a bed shaker device to alert them of a fire emergency.
- Make sure every smoke alarm is tested monthly and replace 9-volt batteries in smoke alarms at least once per year.
- Never remove or disable smoke alarms.
- Close your bedroom doors when you sleep to separate yourself from fire, heat, and toxic smoke.
- Make sure kids and the elderly in your home are familiar with the sound of the smoke alarm.
- Have a home fire escape plan that the entire family has practiced that includes having two ways out of every room as well as a meeting place outside the house.
- Make sure that you practice and can open and get out of windows and doors.
- Call 9-1-1 AFTER you exit your home if your smoke alarms or carbon monoxide alarms are sounding.
- Never use the range or oven as a source to heat for your home. The oven not only is a potential fire hazard, but it can also become a source of high levels of carbon monoxide.
Smoking Safety Tips:
- Smoke outside. Many things in your home can catch on 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 catch on fire easily. Do not smoke in bed because you might fall asleep with a lit cigarette.
- Put cigarettes out all the way. Do this every time. Don’t walk away from lit cigarettes and other smoking materials.
- Put water on the ashes and butts to make sure they are fully extinguished before disposing of them.
- Extinguish cigarettes in an ashtray or bucket with sand.
- Use ashtrays with a wide base so they won’t tip over and start a fire.
- Do not smoke after taking medicine that makes you tired. You may not be able to prevent or escape from a fire if you are not alert.
- Never smoke around medical oxygen. Medical oxygen can explode if a flame or spark is nearby. Even if the oxygen is turned off, it can still catch on fire.
Space Heater Safety:
- Place heater on a hard, level, and nonflammable surface. These appliances are intended to sit on the floor, not on a table.
- Space heaters need to be plugged directly into an electrical outlet.
- Don’t plug another electrical device or extension cord into the same outlet as a heater – that can cause overheating.
- Never use an extension cord with a space heater.
- Make sure your space heater has an automatic shut-off switch.
- Keep kids and pets three feet away from space heaters.
- Turn off heaters when leaving a room or going to bed.
- Keep furniture, blankets, and other household objects at least three feet away from a space heater.
Methods of Heating Safety:
- Carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions or have a professional install wood burning stoves. All fuel-burning equipment must be vented to the outside to avoid a build-up of carbon monoxide inside the home.
- Clean chimneys don’t catch fire. Make sure a professional chimney sweep inspects your solid fuel venting system annually and sweeps and repairs it whenever needed.
- Keep a glass or metal screen in front of fireplace to prevent embers or sparks jumping out.
- Put the fire out before you go to sleep or leave your home.
- Put ashes in a metal container with a lid, outside, at least 3 feet from your home.
- If you smell natural gas or propane near your furnace or your gas heater, do not try light the appliance. Leave the home immediately, then call 9-1-1 and request the fire department and/or gas company respond to your home.
- If using a space heater that requires kerosene or propane, always use the correct fuel specified by the manufacturer and take the heater outside of the home to re-fuel or change tanks.
- Keep home furnishings, blankets, and other objects at least three feet away from fireplaces, and wood burning stoves.
MI Prevention strongly encourages Michigan residents , especially caregivers or anyone who takes care of someone, to watch the following fire safety video to better help those that you care about to increase your chances of surviving a residential fire: https://youtu.be/hj–dLojQag.
If you need smoke alarms and have financial hardship, please contact the Bureau of Fire Services 517-241-8847. For more fire safety information, please visit the MI Prevention website at: MIPrevention.org