It wasn’t that long ago that researchers were telling us how sleeping with the door open can improve the quality of our sleep. But, this goes against everything fire safety experts teach. According to the UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute, the National Fire Protection Association and others, it’s best to sleep with your bedroom door closed. Here’s the startling reason why.
Why Should I Sleep With My Door Closed?
Sleeping with the door (and window) open can protect you from lower ventilation levels and higher levels of carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, carbon dioxide, and other substances. And, while you want to do all you can to protect yourself from these things, there’s an even more important reason to sleep with your bedroom door closed instead–so important, in fact, that there’s an entire campaign built around trying to get more people to promise to sleep with their bedroom door closed. According to the UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute (UL FSRI), closing your door at night will help keep you safe from fire and smoke by stopping the fire from growing and spreading to your room, helping to keep smoke and heat out of your room, helping to keep your home and your belongings safe, keeping the temperature down, and most important of all, saving your life.
According to MSN, most people who sleep with the door open do so because they believe that it’s actually safer. It takes a fire 10 to 15 minutes to burn through a door, but if that door is open, it dramatically increases the chance you might not make it out alive. And, get this: those carbon monoxide levels that are high when your bedroom door is closed increase drastically during a fire when the bedroom door is open! In a study conducted by UL FSRI, carbon monoxide levels in an open-door bedroom measured an extremely toxic 10,000 PPM CO (parts per million of carbon monoxide). The levels in closed-door bedrooms measured just 100 PPM CO. And, that’s not all: closed-door bedrooms during the fire’s spread had average temperatures of less than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, compared to 1000+ degrees Fahrenheit in the open-door bedrooms. “You could see a markable difference that a person could be alive in a room with a closed door much longer,” Stephen Kerber Director, UL FSRI, said in an article on the institute’s website.
What If My Bedroom is on the Second Floor?
You should still sleep with your bedroom door closed anyway. It’s much safer that way. You should also “install smoke alarms in every sleeping room [both upstairs and downstairs] and outside each separate sleeping area,” and make sure all the smoke alarms are interconnected, the National Fire Protection Association says. You should also have a fire escape ladder accessible in each room and make sure everyone who lives with you knows how to use it. You can purchase a fire escape ladder at any leading hardware or home improvement store, or you can get one online on Amazon. And, if by chance a fire happens to break out before you get the opportunity to purchase that ladder, and the bedroom window happens to be the only safe exit at the time, don’t jump out of the window. Hang from the window sill by your hands and drop to the ground instead. That’s because when you hang by your hands and drop to the ground you lessen the distance you will have to fall. And, whatever you do, NEVER attempt to jump or drop from any windows above the second floor!
So, with that being said, if you happen to live on one of the upper level floors in a multi-level apartment building, you obviously can’t jump, and having a fire escape ladder in such a building won’t help either. In a situation like this, it’s best to head for the exit stairwells. “They lead directly outdoors, [and] there’s usually gonna be two per floor,” Caldwell Fontenot, Chief of Fire Prevention in Lake Charles, Louisiana, told KPLC News.
All of that’s fine if you live alone. But, what if you have babies, small children and pets who need rescuing? It’d be quite difficult trying to go down an escape ladder or drop from a window with a kid or pet in your arms. That’s where a special rescue bag would come in handy. According to WOIO in Cleveland, Washington State firefighter Lt. Rick Peters came up with the idea for such a bag after witnessing parents throw their babies and young children out of windows during fires. The bag, called the BabyRescue Rapid Evacuation Device, is made from the same materials used in emergency response equipment and features a breathable mesh side and a 60-foot, non-slip grip line that allows the bag to be lowered out of windows up to five stories high. By the way, there’s also a version for pets. These bags can be purchased online.
What Should I Do Next?
First, start getting in the habit of sleeping with ALL your bedroom doors closed–those that are occupied, that is. If it makes it easier, you can go online to the Close Your Door safety initiative’s website and pledge to sleep with your bedroom door shut. While you’re there, you can also download the “Close Before You Doze Kid’s Flyer” to hang on your child’s bedroom door. The flyer is not only educational, it’s fun as well. It has an area where kids can draw their dream room.
In the meantime, make sure you have a family escape plan if you don’t already. Be sure your escape plan includes a predetermined meeting place outside your home. “It can be the mailbox, a large tree, anything that is far enough away from the house to be safe,” the city of Bartlett, TN, said on its website. Once you have a plan in place, make sure you review it often. Then, have your entire family practice it until you’ve got it down pat.
You also should test your home’s smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. And, check your home for potential fire hazards as well. And, remember, if there is a fire, it’s important that you DO NOT attempt to go back inside once you make it out. Instead, wait outside for your other family members, or, if necessary, go to a neighbor’s house and dial 9-1-1. And, if someone is missing, let the firefighters know who it is and where they might be inside the house, the city of Bartlett also said on its website.
Will you pledge to start sleeping with your bedroom door closed? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading, and be safe!