No one wants to think about a home catching on fire. But if it were to happen, there are ways to increase your and your family’s chance of survival.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, a house fire occurs somewhere in the United States every 88 seconds. Perhaps even more startling, innovations in home furnishings, layouts, and construction over the last 40 years have reduced the average time to escape a home fire from 17 minutes to three minutes or less.
The UL Firefighters Safety Research Institute is on a mission to educate people about a simple and effective method that provides critical minutes to save lives in the event of a fire. Called “Close Before You Doze,” the advice is simple: simply close your door before going to sleep at night.
After more than a decade of research, FSRI found that closing your door can slow fire spreading, reduce toxic smoke levels, improve oxygen levels and decrease temperatures — all which increase the chances of survival. The temperature of a room on fire with the door closed is around 100 degrees. With the door open? More than 1,000 degrees.
“As fire service researchers and professionals, we encourage people to take several precautions and have an evacuation plan, but closing doors at night is one simple and quick routine that anyone can adopt right now,” Steve Kerber, director of the UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute, said in a press release. “It is a very simple behavior change that can help save your life and your loved ones.”
The campaign also found that the average person is not aware of the dramatic impact this simple step can have in the event of a life-or-death situation. After surveying more than 3,204 U.S. adults, UL FSRI found 52 percent believe having the door open will make the room more breathable and only 17 percent of people who sleep with their door closed do so because they believe it to be safer in a fire.
Fundamentally, keeping a door shut is important for cutting off a fire’s oxygen supply.
“People think, ‘Well, there’s smoke in my house. I want to let the smoke out,’” Kerber said on their website. “Yes, you’re letting the smoke out, but you’re letting the air in, and that’s where the problem occurs. With the doors and windows closed, the fire won’t have oxygen to burn and it’s going to stay right there, giving other people in the house more time to get out and also helping protect your property.”
Of course, if you are able to safely evacuate your home in case of a fire, you should do so. If you are trapped inside, however, keep doors closed!