Building Safety month continues with fire safety reminders

May 9, 2013.  The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs’ Bureau of Construction Codes and Bureau of Fire Services marks the first week of Building Safety Month by offering important information on fire safety and awareness.

Smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, escape plans, fire safety for older adults (cooking and heating) and careless smoking are topics most often associated with preventing home fire deaths, according to the United States Fire Association.  Here are important reminders to help safeguard your home against fire danger:

Smoke alarms. Michigan law requires smoke detectors in every home. Install at least one smoke alarm in every bedroom, outside of sleeping areas and on each level of multi-level homes.  Test smoke alarms monthly and replace batteries once a year.  A sounding smoke alarm gives you the extra seconds needed to get out of your home safely.  More than 2,500 Americans died in home fires last year. In most cases, the home did not have a working smoke alarm.

Carbon monoxide alarms and gas appliance safety.  Carbon monoxide (CO) is a deadly, colorless, odorless, poisonous gas that you can’t see, taste or smell.  Initial symptoms of low to moderate CO poisoning are similar to the flu including headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea and dizziness.   It is a silent killer caused by malfunctioning fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, ranges, water heaters and room heaters; engine-powered equipment such as portable generators; fireplaces; and charcoal that is burned in homes.

Install CO detectors that meet the requirements of the current UL 2034 safety standard. Install them in every level of your home, including the basement and within 15 feet of each bedroom.  Also install a CO detector if you have an attached, enclosed garage.  Here are additional safety precautions:

·         Allow plenty of air around gas appliances, such as water heaters, furnaces and boilers to ensure safe operation.  If not, they can produce excessive, deadly carbon monoxide.

·         Never use portable fuel-burning camping equipment inside a home, garage, vehicle, or tent unless it is specifically designed for use in an enclosed space.

·         Never leave a car running in an attached garage, even with the garage door open.

·         Never use gas appliances such as ranges, ovens or clothes dryers to heat your home.

·         During home renovations, ensure that appliance vents and chimneys are not blocked by tarps or debris.  Make sure appliances are in proper working order when renovations are complete.

Have two ways out.  Plan and practice a home escape plan in case of fire by having two ways out of every room and designating a meeting place outside of the home.  Once out, stay out.

Cooking safety.  Never leave cooking unattended because a serious fire can start in seconds.  Never wear loose clothing that can catch fire while cooking; keep towels and pot holders away from the range.  Always make sure the range is off before going to bed or leaving home. Cooking fires are the third leading cause of death for older adults.

Space heaters.  Heating is the second leading cause of fire death for older adults.  When buying a space heater, look for the auto-off safety feature which would cut power to the unit should the heater tip over. Keep space heaters at least three feet away from other objects. Make sure your fireplace screen is large enough to catch flying sparks and rolling logs.

Smoking.  The number one cause of preventable home fire deaths is smoking.  If you smoke, practice fire safety tips to avoid putting your life, your family and your home at risk: never leave a burning cigarette, cigar or pipe unattended; put smoking materials out immediately if you feel drowsy and never smoke in bed.

LARA’s Bureau of Construction Codes and Bureau of Fire Services work as a team to ensure that the built environment and the systems within are sound, safe, and sanitary; the public’s health, safety, and welfare is protected; and that, through a coordinated program of code compliance, investigation and training, there is consistent application of standards.  For more information, go to the Bureau of Construction Codes website at or the Bureau of Fire Services at  For more information about LARA, please visit   Follow us on Twitter, “Like” us on Facebook or find us on YouTube

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