GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan — It's fast. It's hot. And, it can take a life in a matter of minutes. So far, this year, nearly 1,600 Americans have died in house fires. The year 2020 has been a particularly deadly year in Michigan. To date, there have been 75 fatal house fires, that have claimed the lives of 90 people.
"We're not liking that one bit. We can do better. And it's all about people practicing safe acts in the home," said Lt. William Smith with the Grand Rapids Fire Department (GRFD).
October is Fire Prevention Month. All month fire safety advocates, including GRFD, are working to raise awareness. State data show the 3 leading causes of deadly fires, in Michigan, are careless smoking, cooking, and home heating sources.
"Nationally, we're looking at cooking fires being the number one cause for fires in the home," says Smith. "And, that's really preventable. There are just a few things that people should really take heed. Number one, if you're cooking on the stove, don't leave the kitchen for any reason, even momentarily. We really want people to stay in the kitchen when they're cooking."
Smith says people being distracted is a major factor in house fires.
"We've had people tell us that while they were doing something out back with their phone, or they're talking to a friend. It's just distractions, and we do become complacent, because we're so confident in our cooking abilities. So we, you know, set on the stove and then we walk away and go about our life. But, really this is something that can put you in great peril and your property."
Smith says if someone must leave the kitchen, while cooking, they should set a timer or reminder and check back soon as soon as possible.
Other fire safety tips:
- Install smoke alarms on every level of the home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.
- Test smoke alarms every month. If they're not working, change the batteries.
- Talk with all family members about a fire escape plan, that includes 2 ways out of every room and a designated meeting place outside. Practice the plan twice a year.
- Close bedroom doors when sleeping to slow the spread of a potential house fire.
- If a fire occurs in the home, get out, stay out and call for help. Never go back inside for anything or anyone.
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