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Spike in home fire fatalities since Stay home, Stay Safe Order

Posted at 5:14 AM, May 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-11 05:14:50-04

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan State Fire Marshal, Kevin Sehlmeyer, is urging residents to take a proactive approach in home fire safety after a spike in fire fatalities in the month of April.

He says this is due to more people spending time at home and improperly placed, or non-working smoke alarms.

The month of April brought a 41% increase in the number of deaths the State of Michigan saw as a result of home fires.

"Especially during this stay at home order we want to make sure everyone has working smoke alarms and the best way to know if you have working smoking alarms is to push the buttons," Kevin Sehlmeyer, Michigan State Fire Marshal said.

He says it's always important to have working smoke detectors because that could make the difference between a fire and a fatal fire.

"The best thing with the fatal fires is you have to have working smoke detectors and the state fire marshal indicated that with the, at that time, 15 fatal fires there was only 3 that that working smoke detectors," Dave DeKorte, Fire Chief for DeWitt Township Fire said.

Sehlmeyer says those 15 fatal fires were just from the month of April, most likely spiking because people are at home more.

He says if this trend continues, Michigan will see way more home fire-related fatalities than last year.

"We're at 57 for the year, we've had 109 all of last year so we definitely felt we needed to get out and talk fire safety with the citizen of the state of Michigan," Sehlmeyer said.

Fire safety includes working smoke detectors but another big contributor in preventing a fatal fire is having a home escape plan.

"If you can't get out of your bedroom and go through the house to use a front door, you need a second way out which is either through a window or another door through the house and you want to have that plan in place ahead of time," DeKorte said.

Fire professionals say all of these things may not completely prevent a home fire, but it will drastically cut down the chances of them being fatal.

Michigan State Fire Marshal says a commonly forgot step is making sure to always place the fire detector back on the ceiling after removing it to replace batteries.

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