During a house fire, your ordinary-looking door can transform into a safety superhero. All you have to do to activate its life-saving powers is close it.

A closed door can maintain a room temperature of less than 100 degrees versus the 1,000+ degrees typical in an open-door room.

It can also protect you from toxic gas. During research conducted by the UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute (FSRI), gas levels during a house fire in an open-door bedroom measured an extremely toxic 10,000 parts per million of carbon monoxide (PPM CO), while the closed-door bedroom had approximately 100 PPM CO.

Pretty amazing for a simple bedroom door. Team a closed door hero with its smoke alarm sidekick, and you‘re far more likely to survive a fire. Properly placed smoke alarms can alert you in time to escape. If the worst happens and you’re trapped inside, a closed door can help protect you from the gas, smoke and flames until help arrives. You can see the dramatic difference something seemingly as simple as a closed door makes by watching a fire rescue captured by the firefighters as it happened.

Good news, bad news

Unfortunately, the lifesaving powers of closed doors and smoke alarms still aren’t widely known. According to a new UL FSRI Close Before You Doze survey:

  • One third of Americans mistakenly believe it is safer to have their bedroom door open in the event of a fire, and 40% believe rooms with open doors are more breathable in the event of a fire.
  • 59% of Americans have a fire escape plan, but 43% have reviewed it once or never at all. You should review it at least once a year.
  • Most Americans, 62%, have one to three working smoke alarms in their house, but only 23% check them once a month, the recommended frequency.

There is good news, though. The survey also shows that the number of Americans who sleep with the door closed because they believe it is safer in case of a fire has increased to 25% in 2019 from 17% in 2018. It’s important to know that if a building is on fire and you can’t get out, a closed door can help save your life. And, if you can do so safely when escaping a burning structure, close the door behind you to help limit property damage.

Smoke alarms are your friend

In three of every five house fire deaths, the homes either had no smoke alarms or smoke alarms that didn’t work. And almost half of those that didn’t work had missing or disconnected batteries, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

The number one reason people disable their devices is due to cooking nuisance alarms. Thankfully, overly sensitive smoke alarms that shriek every time you tried to fry food are no longer something you have to put up with for safety’s sake. The next generation of the protective devices are both more sensitive to legitimate threats while far less likely to be triggered by everyday activities such as cooking.

The UL 217, the Standard for Smoke Alarms, eighth edition, and UL 268, the Standard for Smoke Detectors for Fire Alarm Systems, seventh edition, include more than 250 technical updates to address the different smoke composition and faster flammability rates of today’s modern household products.

Smoke alarm manufacturers are working toward meeting a 2020 deadline for having their products tested against the revised Standards. Some products tested to the new Standards are already available on store shelves. When replacing or buying new smoke alarms, look for products that are third-party listed or certified.

Whether you have a new or older smoke alarm, remember to:

  • Place smoke alarms on every level of your home, including inside and outside of each sleeping area
  • Have interconnected smoke alarms. When one sounds, they will all sound resulting in a far more effective warning system, especially in a big house.
  • Check your smoke alarms at least once a month. Press the test button to be sure the alarm is working.
  • Replace all smoke alarms in your home every 10 years.

SafeBee® Top Three:

  • Most house fires occur at night, so make Close Before You Doze part of your family’s nighttime routine.
  • If your kids dislike sleeping in a room with a closed door, here are some kid-centric educational resources that may help.
  • For more fire-safety tips, please visit CloseYourDoor.org and SmokeAlarms.UL.org.