Fire Safety Awareness Saves Lives
Less people died in Michigan fires during 2015, compared to the previous year, according to reports filed with the State Fire Marshal. During 2014, there were 150 fire deaths in this state. That compares to 166 people who died in blazes here during 2013.
One out of every five who were killed in fires was a child under the age of 13.
The lack of working smoke detectors is a significant factor in these deaths, according to an insurance industry representative. Of the 109 fatal residential fires fires which occurred in 2015, 63 percent had no or it was unknown if smoke detectors were present.
The chance of dying in a fire is cut in half if there are working smoke detectors in the home. Unfortunately, of the 40 residences that did have smoke alarms, almost half were not working when the fatal fires occurred.
"Smoke detectors save lives. They provide an early warning which can allow residents to escape before the house is fully engulfed in flames," Lori Conarton, Communications Director, Insurance Information Association of Michigan (IIAM), said. "Most fire victims die from inhalation of smoke and toxic gases, rather than flames."
The inability to escape a fire also contributes to fire-related deaths. Fire safety experts suggest that families plan and practice their escape routes.
The decline in the number of fire deaths last year can be attributed in part to heightened public awareness and a growing number of education programs.
"Most fires are preventable and we must continue our public awareness efforts," Conarton said. "With a little planning and use of common sense, the number of fire deaths will keep declining."
Reccomendations on Fire Safety
The insurance industry official recommends the following tips to be fire safe:
- Plan and practice an escape route. Have your family plan an escape route which includes two exits out of each room. Choose a meeting place outside where everyone will gather.
- Test your smoke detectors once a month and replace the batteries once a year.
- Give space heaters room. Keep portable and space heaters at least three feet from anything that can burn.
- Be careful cooking. Never leave food on the stove unattended.
- Teach children that matches and lighters are tools. In the hands of a child, matches and lighters are deadly. Store these items in a place where a child cannot reach them or in a locked cabinet.
- Use electricity safely. If an appliance smokes or has an unusual smell, unplug it immediately and have it repaired. Don't overload extension cords or run them under rugs.
- Don't smoke or cook if you are intoxicated.
- "Stop, Drop and Roll." If your clothes catch fire, stop, drop to the ground, cover your face with your hands and roll over to smother the flames.
IIAM is a nonprofit, public information organization which sponsors a number of consumer information and education programs.