According to firefighters, every second counts during a fire. In fact, house fires can double in size every minute that goes by. About half of home fire deaths happen between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. when most people are sleeping.
But here’s the good news: There’s a simple step you can add to your nighttime routine to keep you safe.
Research from UL’s Firefighter Safety Research Institute (FRSI) shows that closing your bedroom door helps prevent a fire from spreading, lessens smoke damage and could even save lives.
Just like having the right homeowners insurance, a little preparation can go a long way to help you rest easy. Watch this video to see why it matters to “Close Before You Doze.”
Here’s why it works: Fires spread more quickly the more oxygen they have. Keeping your bedroom door closed can slow the spread of a house fire, as well as reduce toxic smoke levels.
Having the right kind of fire extinguisher nearby can help. But when it comes to fire-related deaths, it’s usually not the flames that are to blame. Smoke is actually more likely to cause suffocation and death.
Why should you sleep with the door closed?
When a door is closed during a fire, a person in that room experiences:
- More survivable temperatures: Temperatures typically will stay below 100 degrees Fahrenheit
- Livable oxygen levels: Oxygen levels read around 18%. (For comparison, regular room air is about 20% oxygen.)
- Less toxic carbon monoxide levels: Close to 100 parts per million of carbon monoxide
When a door remains open during a fire, a person in that room is exposed to:
- Less survivable temperatures: Temperatures can get hotter than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit
- Low oxygen levels: Oxygen levels can decrease to 8%, making it harder to breathe
- Extremely toxic carbon monoxide levels: Dangerous levels can increase to 10,000 PPM CO
How much time do you have to escape a fire?
Forty years ago, the average time people had to escape a fire safely was 17 minutes. Today’s homes only allow for three minutes or less to evacuate. Why? Modern synthetic construction materials, home furnishings and contemporary layouts allow fire to spread and become toxic much faster than in the past. (Test your knowledge of fire safety facts in this quiz.)
But don’t panic—even two minutes is a lot of time to escape a fire if you remain calm, have a plan and close doors in your home.
One final tip: When you escape a fire, remember to close the door behind you once you exit. This will cut off the oxygen to the fire and may stop the fire’s growth.
Protect what you've worked so hard to build
When it comes to fire safety, closing your bedroom door is a simple step that can make a big difference. Learn more at CloseYourDoor.org.