Fire experts say you could save a life, by watching where you charge your devices

Michigan

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — It’s National Burn Awareness Week, and Michael McLeieer, a firefighter who also runs the fire safety non-profit Escape Inc., wants everyone to take steps to protect themselves and their families. 

“Here in Michigan, we continue to see needless fire deaths,” McLeieer said. “We’re already at 10 fire fatalities so far, just since January,”

“Burn awareness week is an opportunity the first full week of February, for fire and safety educators and advocates across the country to come together and prevent those burn injuries that happen in our homes,” McLeieer said.

This year the theme is electrical safety, with a focus on personal gadgets like laptops and cell phones.

“Those appliances, those devices rather produce a large amount of heat,” McLeieer said.

McLeieer said it’s important to remember to put your devices on a flat, firm surface and never couches or beds.

McLeieer said this time of the year in Michigan, when the weather is extra cold, people need to be on their P’s and Q’s.

“Certainly Michigan is more prone to these because of the cold weather and because of the cold spell that we’re seeing right now,” McLeieer said.

“When we talk about space heaters, for example, space heaters need space. We need to make sure we always plug them directly into a wall outlet, never into an extension cord, never into a power strip,” McLeieer said.

With a million other things going on in our lives, McLeieer understands that fire safety might not always be at the front of your mind, but he said these things do happen.

“We have found that a majority of the fatal fires the fire departments are responding too, there is one common element, there are no working smoke alarms,” McLeieer said.

Smoke alarms should be placed in every bedroom, outside all sleeping areas, and on every level of your home.

McLeieer shared the following information with 6 News:

Burn injuries continue to be one of the leading causes of accidental death and injury to children and adults in our Nation.

A common risk for injury exists from unprotected electrical outlets, improperly used extension cords, lighting, and workplace electrical injuries.

That’s why the theme from the American Burn Association for National Burn Awareness Week 2021 is “Electrical Safety from Amps to Zap (A to Z)!”

Electrical fires are a leading cause of home and business fires causing injury and even death. Using major appliances safely, charging phones and laptops on hard surfaces, switching to LED lightbulbs, installing outlet covers and storing batteries safely are all easy steps we can take to prevent electrical fires and burns.

Here are some tips to prevent electrical fires and burns:

· Plug major appliances like space heaters and air conditioners directly into wall outlets. Don’t use extension cords or power strips with these and other high-wattage appliances.

· Charge laptops, cellphones and tablets on hard surfaces. Don’t charge them on soft surfaces like beds or upholstered furniture.

· Unplug any device powered by lithium-ion batteries (like a hoverboard) once they are charged-up. Don’t overcharge or leave them charging unattended or overnight.

· Turn heating pads, electric blankets and space heaters off before sleeping.

· Learn how to react to a fire in the microwave oven: keep the door shut and unplug it if safe to do so.

· As a general rule, don’t put metal in the microwave (check your owner’s manual for specific packaging that might be allowed, but don’t gamble if you are not sure.)

· Keep battery terminals (positive and negative ends) from coming in contact with each other or with other metals. Tape the ends if you are storing them loosely in a drawer.

“By taking some simple steps and precautions today, you will prevent a fire or burn injury from occurring tomorrow,” l McLeieer said. “After all, the best fire is the fire that never happens,” McLeieer stated.

For more information on Burn Prevention Week and other fire safety tips, visit http://ameriburn.org/prevention/burn-awareness-week/ or www.escapeinc.org

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