TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – With winter on the way in Michigan and Fire Prevention Week starting soon on October 9th, it’s time to start thinking about fire safety.

This time of year often spurs a call to your local heating & cooling company to take a look at your furnace to make sure things will run smoothly once the snow flies and the cold weather hits but there are also other things that you can do that will add to your peace of mind and keep you safer by helping your local firefighters help you if they are
needed in an emergency.

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One very important thing you can do is to change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. A lot of people like to schedule this once or twice a year when the time changes. The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) even has a campaign called “Change Your Clocks, Change Your Batteries.” This year, Daylight Savings Time ends on November 6th, two days before the midterm elections. So be sure to get your safety alarms in working order for the winter ahead.

There are other ways to be proactive so that in the case of a fire, your local firefighters and first responders have a good chance to help you or your neighbors if they are needed.

One of those things is to make sure that firefighters have easy access to your property and your home. Firefighters in Bear Creek Township in Emmet County have been asking residents to make sure that driveways are clear so that a fire truck can get to a house without being blocked. They describe a truck as a “12 by 12-foot cube” and a lot
of space is needed to respond quickly when every second counts.

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They ask for everyone to check their property for leaning, fallen and overgrown trees and brush and make sure there is a clear path for a firetruck to get to their house in the event of a house fire or a wild fire in their area.

Another helpful tip is to make sure that you have a clear address sign for first responders to see. Are your address numbers easy to find, large and clear? Or are they small, worn-off stickers on your mailbox? Also make sure that your address is visible from either direction on the road.

An additional barrier to access that should be considered is if you have a driveway with gates or fences that would stop the firetrucks from entering your driveway.

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The NFPA also recommends that your family has an escape plan to get out of your house in the event of a fire. They have multiple tips and resources available at their Fire Prevention Week website link.

One last thing to consider is finding out where your nearest fire hydrant is – and keeping an eye on it in the winter to make sure it’s clear of snow and ice and that it’s easily accessible. It only takes about five minutes to shovel out a fire hydrant and those minutes could be the difference between life and death for you or someone you love.

According to the Michigan Fire Inspectors Society (MFIS), there have been 90 deaths in Michigan so far in 2022 from 75 fires, a 10% increase compared to the average from 2017-2021. 63% of those deaths were males and 37% females with 25% of the people dying being disabled.

The largest number of those fires originated in a living room (42%). The number one cause of fires is smoking (50%), followed by electrical (13%) and cooking (8%). The time of day where most fire deaths happened was from 6 pm to
6 am (65%) and Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday accounted for 58% of all fire deaths.