The Mining Journal. October 2, 2020

Fire Prevention Month a good time to take inventory

On Thursday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer proclaimed October as Fire Prevention Month — an effort to help spread the message of fire safety, protect Michigan residents, and save lives.

Fatal fire data collected by MI Prevention — a statewide community risk reduction effort led by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs in collaboration with the State Fire Marshal and Michigan’s fire safety organizations — shows most of Michigan’s fire deaths happen overnight, with 50% of fire deaths resulting from fires that started in the living room, 17% of fires that started in the kitchen, and 16% of fires that started in bedrooms.

That’s why preparation is so key: Families need to know what to do if a fire breaks out in their home.

An important first step is installation of fire alarms.

And it’s imperative to check the smoke alarms of elderly family members to help identify fire hazards in their home and correct them. It is also important to be cautious while smoking, as 51% of the fire deaths in Michigan since 2017 have involved careless smoking.

In order to make every home more fire-safe, MI Prevention offers the following tips:

≤ Install smoke alarms on every level of the home and inside every sleeping area.

≤ Check the alarm by pushing the test button every month.

≤ Never smoke in bed; keep lighters and cigarettes away from children.

≤ Never leave lit candles unattended; place them in sturdy holders on uncluttered surfaces, keeping them at least one foot away from anything that can burn, including curtains, bedding, furniture, and carpeting.

≤ Have fireplaces, chimneys, wood stoves, and coal stoves inspected annually by a professional – and cleaned if necessary.

≤ Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended.

≤ Use caution when using space heaters; never leave them unattended, keep them at least three feet away from anything that can burn, and place them on a hard-nonflammable surface, like a ceramic tile floor.

≤ Replace frayed extension cords; do not overload extension cords.

≤ Never overload electrical outlets; plug only one heat-producing appliance into an outlet at a time.

≤ Major appliances should not be plugged in using extension cords or plug strips; plug appliances and space heaters directly into the wall electrical outlet.

≤ Keep clothes and other items three feet away from gas water heaters.

≤ Clean the dryer lint screen after each load — lint is extremely flammable.

≤ Have fire extinguishers in the home and know how to use them.

≤ Make sure all doors and windows leading outside open easily and are not blocked by furniture or clutter.

≤ Sleep with your bedroom door closed with a smoke alarm in your bedroom; this can save lives by reducing toxic smoke levels and slowing down the spread of fire and smoke into bedrooms.

≤ If you need to escape out a window, close the door between you and the fire before opening the window to escape as a closed door slows down the spread of fire and smoke as you escape.

LARA and its Bureau of Fire Services will also be joining the National Fire Protection Association in recognizing Fire Prevention week Oct. 4-11.

Being aware and being prepared are two important steps in avoiding a tragic home fire. We implore families to take the time to make sure each member knows what to do if a fire breaks out in the home.


The Alpena News. October 3, 2020

With precautions, Halloween can still be fun

The number-one question on children’s minds right now is what trick-or-treating is going to look like in a few weeks.

Talking with my granddaughters last weekend, they shared their plans for the big night, including what they were dressing up like this year.

While they were plotting and planning for a night of candy bars and apples, their parents and grandparents were wondering whether there even will be trick-or-treating. And, if so, what kind of stipulations will there be regarding it?

While nothing locally has yet been announced, this week, officials with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services did suggest some guidelines for Halloween activities.

Admittedly, “the way we celebrate Halloween in Michigan will be different this year due to COVID-19,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “However, there are still many ways to celebrate safely.”

MDHHS recommendations include staying home if you are not feeling well, maintaining social distancing from others while outside, wearing a mask, and either washing your hands or using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol frequently.

Officials with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also offered ideas about the upcoming holiday. They suggest:

∫ Share with your children that this year may be different than last, but let them know some of the new ways you plan to celebrate and still have lots of fun.

∫ Talk with children about safety and social distancing guidelines and expectations. Keep a six-foot distance from others not in your group.

∫ Participate in one-way trick-or-treating and guide children to stay to the right to ensure social distancing.

∫ Trick or treat with people you live with.

∫ Avoid congregating in groups around houses.

∫ Wear a face mask covering both mouth and nose (officials explained that a costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask.)

∫ Only go to houses with safety measures in place.

CDC officials also suggested homeowners who want to pass out treats also should take certain precautions. They suggested moving outside to pass out candy this year, rather than at the front door.

They also suggested using duct tape to mark off six foot lines in front of the candy station to space the little goblins apart from others.

Put a piece of furniture, such as a table, between you and the trick-or-treaters.

Halloween is a fun time for youth, and I would hate to see it curtailed or done away this year.

I would hope by now we all understand the importance of being respectful of others by following mask protocols and other safety standards.

I would hope that, by all of us doing that, we can still make Halloween a fun and exciting time for all those little ghosts and goblins we love this year.


The Detroit News, October 2, 2020

Now that the Michigan Supreme Court has ruled the state’s 1945 emergency powers law unconstitutional, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer must do what she should have been doing throughout the COVID-19 crisis — work with the Legislature to devise a plan for protecting Michigan residents from the virus.

In the 4-3 decision, the court ruled invalid the law that Whitmer used to unilaterally extend her powers after the first, lawmaker-approved emergency declaration expired in late April. The majority held the law delegated powers to the governor that rightly belong to the Legislature.

All of the executive orders issued by the governor since April 30 will go away once the ruling goes into effect, and will need legislative approval to be reinstated.

The federal lawsuit was filed by three Michigan medical centers and a patient claiming they were negatively impacted by the governor’s emergency orders limiting their operations. The federal judge hearing the case asked the Michigan justices to answer the question of the 1945 law’s constitutionality.

A second suit raising a similar challenge and filed by Republican legislative leaders is pending before the Michigan Supreme Court, and is now moot.

The governor cast the lawsuits as an effort to strip her of her powers to protect Michigan. Rather, they were rightly intended to restore the authority she unilaterally stripped from the Legislature.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey said of the ruling: “This is not a time to spike the ball. It’s time for us to prove, as we have been claiming all along, that we can move from being in fear of COVID to learning to live with and manage through it.

“We stand ready to work with the governor to do what is necessary for Michigan to lead by example in transitioning our state by informing, inspiring, and enabling citizens to do what’s necessary and responsible.”

House Speaker Lee Chatfield tweeted, “We will now continue our partnership with our governor. We will work through this challenge as our Constitution requires and as we always have in times past — together.”

That’s the way it should work. There’s no reason the governor and Legislature can’t collaborate to restore the executive orders that make sense, and issue new ones if needed.

All that changes is that the people’s representatives will have input into the decisions impacting their constituents, and oversight of how the governor exercises any powers they give her.

In her dissent, Chief Justice Bridget McCormack wrote her colleagues were engaging in judicial activism, striking a law the Legislature could have rewritten or repealed itself.

She noted that other judicial remedies were available, including challenging whether the current state of the pandemic qualifies as an emergency under the law. That was the course we recommended.

Still, the outcome is welcome and overdue. Representative democracy should not go away in a crisis — that’s exactly when it’s needed most.

In her statement, Whitmer decried the ruling and noted that it doesn’t take effect for 21 days. We hope she comes to the reality quickly that her dictatorial approach to governing is over and recognizes the Legislature’s legitimate role.

If the governor hasn’t already called Shirkey and Chatfield to begin working on a plan for cooperatively managing Michigan through the pandemic, she’s derelict in her duty to the people of this state.