Red Cross East Central-Bay Board Member Mike Snyder knows the importance of having a working smoke alarm in your home

“Fatal home fires frequently happen in homes without a smoke detector or with smoke detectors without working batteries,” said Mike Snyder.

Snyder of Auburn, Michigan knows firsthand the sad reality of fatal home fires. Mike first became a volunteer firefighter at the age of 16 and went on to become a fire chief for the Auburn-Williams Fire Department. As a longtime advocate for home fire safety, Mike has served as a board member of the American Red Cross of Michigan’s East Central Bay Chapter for eight years.

“The biggest myth about home fires is that you have time to get out,” said Snyder. “Home fires move quickly, and you may only have two minutes to get out before smoke, toxic gasses and heat will overwhelm you.”

That’s why the early warning provided by a smoke alarm is so important. Mike and the Red Cross recommend checking the battery of your smoke detector once a month. Many smoke detectors have a ten-year lithium battery, but regular checks of the device are important to ensure the device is working properly. This is as simple is pressing the button and hearing a sound. No sound? It’s time to replace the device.

A smoke alarm can provide an early warning; however, having planned escape routes is also critical.

“Everyone needs to understand at least two ways out of the house and where to meet outside so you can do a head count,” he added. “Once everyone is accounted for, this allows firefighters to shift from lifesaving objectives to property conservation efforts.”

These two simple steps – testing your fire alarms monthly and planning an escape route – will help prepare your family to survive a fire. Learn more at

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