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Fire Marshal Urges Michiganders to "Push the Button" to Test Smoke Alarms

Social media campaign aims to improve safety for the elderly

Media Contact: LARA Communications 517-373-9280

April 26, 2018 - With over half of the state’s residential fire fatalities claiming the lives of those over the age of 60 last year, State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer today is urging Michiganders to Push the Button to test smoke alarms in the homes of elderly loved ones to make sure they are working properly. To participate in this social media campaign, you can use the hashtag #PressToTest and post your video on your own personal accounts and the Push the Button Challenge Facebook page.

Image of person testing smoke alarm“Go visit anyone that you care about – your mom, dad, grandparents, elderly neighbors – and record a video of yourself and your family member testing their smoke alarm,” said Sehlmeyer. “By pushing the button on each smoke alarm, you will make sure the smoke alarm works and know that your family and friends are protected. It is such a simple, easy, life-saving thing you can do. Make sure to share your video on social media using the hashtag ‘#PressToTest’ and challenge your friends to do the same for their family."

Homes should have a working smoke alarm on every level of the house, including the basement – and one in every bedroom. If you have a fire, you will have less than three minutes to get out of your home before the smoke and fire gases become deadly based on live fire studies conducted by Underwriters Laboratory (UL) and the National Institute of Standard and Technology (NIST). The early warning given by smoke alarms provide you with extra time to escape, especially children and senior citizens who are most at risk and need extra seconds to get out safely.

Smoke alarms need to be replaced every 10 years. You should check your smoke alarms monthly. If your smoke alarm begins to “chirp,” it’s a warning that the battery is low and needs to be replaced. Smoke alarms are either powered by a disposable 9-volt battery or non-replaceable 10-year lithium “long-life” battery.  Some homes have smoke alarms directly hardwired into the home electrical system.  Hard-wired smoke alarms are usually equipped with a backup battery and those batteries also need to be replaced at some point. An advantage with hard-wired alarms is that they are interconnected so when one smoke alarm goes off, all the smoke alarms go off in the whole house. Never borrow a battery from a smoke alarm to use somewhere else.

Sehlmeyer emphasized that this rather lighthearted challenge addresses a deadly serious issue in Michigan. For the last several years, Michigan has ranked in the top tier of states nationally for its high number of residential fire fatalities. In 2017, Michigan’s fire departments collectively reported 87 residential fire fatalities with the highest percentage (52.4 percent) among those over age 60.  Further, the National Fire Protection Association reports that 3 out of every 5 home fire deaths occur from fires in homes without working smoke alarms.

“We will do whatever is necessary to reinforce the message that having working smoke alarms save lives,” said Stan Barnes of the Farmington Fire Department. Contact your local fire department or local Red Cross Chapter if your financial situation is keeping you from having working smoke alarms.

The Michigan Community Risk Reduction (CRR) Task Force is a statewide program that is working to reduce fire fatalities in urban, suburban, and rural communities across the state.

For more information go to: Michigan CRR 2018-2020 Strategic Plan. The CRR Task Force is comprised of more than 70 members from fire departments across the state, the Bureau of Fire Services staff, and representatives from Michigan Fire Service organizations, the American Red Cross-Michigan Chapter, and support of the National Fire Protection Association.




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