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LARA Director and State Fire Marshal Remind Michiganders to Change their Smoke Alarm Batteries and Practice their Fire Escape Plan

Media Contact: LARA Communications 517-335-LARA (5272)

March 5, 2020 – As daylight saving time goes into effect this weekend, LARA Director Orlene Hawks and State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer remind Michiganders to adopt the life-saving habits of changing the batteries in their smoke alarms and practicing their home fire escape plan.

“Families need to develop a home fire escape plan and practice it often,” said LARA Director Orlene Hawks. “Make sure all family members – especially children – recognize the sound of the smoke alarm and respond to it by following the escape plan.”

“In as little as three minutes, a home can be totally engulfed in flames,” said State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer. “Having working smoke alarms provide an early warning, giving the family a chance to escape the home.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), approximately three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms (40%) or no smoke alarms that were working (17%). Never remove or disconnect batteries from detectors unless you are putting a new battery in the smoke alarm.

The state fire marshal recommends the following:

  • “Press to Test” smoke alarms monthly using the test button.
  • In 9-volt smoke alarms, replace batteries twice a year or when the smoke alarm begins to chirp, signaling that the battery is running low.
  • Install a smoke alarm in every bedroom or sleeping area and have one smoke alarm on every level of the home, including the basement. 
  • For added protection, consider an interconnected smoke alarm system, so that when one smoke alarm sounds all the smoke alarms sound in the whole home.
  • Hardwired smoke alarms are more reliable than those powered solely by batteries.
  • Newer smoke alarms come with lithium batteries that can last up to ten years.
  • Every ten years replace all your smoke alarms, or sooner if they do not respond properly when tested.
  • Choose alarms that bear the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
  • People who are deaf or hard of hearing should equip their homes with alert devices such as high intensity strobe lights, and pillow or bed shakers that are activated by the sound of a standard smoke alarm. 

Sehlmeyer urges families to know two ways out in a home fire escape plan and practice it twice a year. Make sure all family members – especially children – know and follow the family’s escape plan.  Children are at an increased risk of dying in a home fire because they can become scared and confused when a fire starts.    

Carbon monoxide alarms are also critically important safety equipment in the home. Carbon monoxide is called the invisible killer as carbon monoxide cannot be seen or smelled. This poisonous gas can come from a variety of sources and can quickly incapacitate and kill its victims. 

Carbon monoxide alarms should be installed on every level of the home and outside sleeping areas. Carbon monoxide alarms need fresh batteries at least once every year, unless they are powered by sealed ten-year batteries. Carbon monoxide alarms should also be tested once a month to make sure they are working properly.

MI Prevention is a statewide program that is working to reduce fire fatalities in urban, suburban, and rural communities across the state. More information can be found here.

MI Prevention is comprised of more than 80 members from fire departments across the state, the Bureau of Fire Services staff, and representatives from partnering organizations, including the American Red Cross-Michigan Chapter, and support of the NFPA.

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