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Change your clocks and take the steps towards being a Life Safety Hero for your family this weekend

As Michiganders move their clocks ahead one hour for daylight saving time this Sunday, Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) Director Marlon I. Brown and State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer urge everyone to adopt the life-saving habits of having working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. It’s as simple as pushing the button to test them when changing your clocks. As recently as January 2024, 14 people died in 13 fires in Michigan and 63% did not have working smoke alarms.

“Testing your smoke alarms to ensure they are working properly greatly increases your chance of surviving a home fire,” said Marlon I. Brown, the Director of LARA. “You have less than 2 minutes to escape when a fire starts and every second counts. Smoke alarms provide the early warning you and your loved ones need to be able to evacuate quickly and smoke alarms increase your chance of surviving a house fire.” 

Even when you’re not adjusting clocks, it’s never a bad time to prevent yourself and loved ones from a house fire. An important first step, according to Sehlmeyer, is to talk with your family about the “get out and stay out” method if a fire occurs in your home. He also urges those in this situation not to try putting the fire out themselves.

In 2023, 125 people died in 112 fires in Michigan, a 4% increase in deaths and an 11% increase in the number of fatal fires as compared to 2022. In these fires, only 28% of homes were reported as having a working smoke alarm at the time of the fatal fire. The data collected by MI Prevention shows clear trends that those who are aging in place or do not have a working smoke alarm have higher risks of having a house fire or not being able to escape one. The earlier you can take steps to prevent these incidents, the better.

To engage in early warning of fatal fires, Brown and Sehlmeyer recommend the following:

  • “Press to Test” your smoke alarms monthly using the test button.
  • Consider replacing 9-volt smoke alarms with 10-year lithium battery smoke alarms.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Michiganders must know two ways out of their homes via a prepared-in-advance fire escape plan and practice their home fire drill two times per year. Make sure all family members – especially senior family members aging in place and children – know and follow the escape plan. If you do have a house fire, always close the bedroom door between you and the toxic smoke before you open a window to escape.

More information and prevention tips can be found through MI Prevention, a statewide program working to reduce fire fatalities in urban, suburban, and rural communities across the state. The program is comprised of more than 700 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 National Fire Protection Association.