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Make home more fire safe

This is Fire Prevention Week and a good time to take inventory. Families need to know what to do if a fire breaks out in their home. An important first step is installation of fire alarms.

And it’s imperative to check the smoke alarms of elderly family members and to help identify fire hazards in their home and correct them. It is also important to be cautious while smoking, as 51 percent of the fire deaths in Michigan since 2017 have involved careless smoking.

In order to make every home more fire safe, MI Prevention offers the following tips:

• Install smoke alarms on every level of the home and inside every sleeping area.

• Check the alarm by pushing the test button every month.

• Never smoke in bed; keep lighters and cigarettes away from children.

• Never leave lit candles unattended; place them in sturdy holders on uncluttered surfaces, keeping them at least one foot away from anything that can burn, including curtains, bedding, furniture, and carpeting.

• Have fireplaces, chimneys, wood stoves, and coal stoves inspected annually by a professional — and cleaned if necessary.

• Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended.

• Replace frayed extension cords; do not overload extension cords.

• Never overload electrical outlets; plug only one heat-producing appliance into an outlet at a time.

• Major appliances should not be plugged in using extension cords or plug strips; plug appliances and space heaters directly into the wall electrical outlet.

• Keep clothes and other items three feet away from gas water heaters.

• Clean the dryer lint screen after each load — lint is extremely flammable.

• Have fire extinguishers in the home and know how to use them.

• Make sure all doors and windows leading outside open easily and are not blocked by furniture or clutter.

• Sleep with your bedroom door closed with a smoke alarm in your bedroom; this can save lives by reducing toxic smoke levels and slowing down the spread of fire and smoke into bedrooms.

• If you need to escape out a window, close the door between you and the fire before opening the window to escape as a closed door slows down the spread of fire and smoke as you escape.

Being aware and being prepared are two important steps in avoiding a tragic home fire. We implore families to take the time to make sure each member knows what to do if a fire breaks out in the home.

* Guest editorial from The Mining Journal in Marquette, Mich.

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