GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — According to a new report Michigan has seen a significant uptick in the number of deadly fires this year.
The report, compiled annually by the Michigan Fire Inspectors Society Foundation, is meant to give people a realistic picture of potential fire hazards int he home.
“You really really need to protect yourselves and put the appropriate amount of working smoke alarms in your home,” Lt William Smith told FOX 17. "Working smoke alarms in your homes save lives."
The report says that there were 72 fire-related deaths in the state of Michigan within the last 6 months. That is an increase of 36% over the same period in 2019.
40 of those deaths happened within the first 3 months of 2020.
Lt Smith says those smoke alarms are so important because 63% of fatal house fires happen overnight, between the hours of 6:00pm and 6:00am.
“When you're sleeping, when those fires are going unchecked, the products of combustion, the Smoke, will actually put you into a deeper sleep,” Lt Smith said.
And before that alarm goes off, make sure that your family has an emergency plan to fall back on in the event of a real fire.
"We absolutely recommend that people practice two ways out of your home, practice with your children and practice often," Lt Smith said.
“If you have a fire don't go back in for any reason. Go to a neighbor's house and get them to call 911 for you.”
With the Fourth of July weekend upon us, Lt Smith reminds everyone to use extreme caution when lighting off fireworks near any sort of building.
"If you have fireworks going on around your home, whether you're setting them off or your it's your neighbors, before you go to bed, just check your property. Make sure that you don't have a smoldering vegetation fire like grass or bushes or trees," he said.
And once you've got smoke detectors on every floor of your home and an amergency plan in place, make sure to be testing the smoke alarms at least once a month.
The Southwest Michigan branch of the American Red Cross offers free smoke alarms to those who need them. You can schedule an in-home visit with them by calling (269) 353-6180 at extension 7181.