One Really Good Reason to Sleep with Your Bedroom Door Closed

published Dec 23, 2018
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(Image credit: Lana Kenney)

If you thought leaving your bedroom door open every night was the safer way to sleep, then think again. According to new research from the UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute (FSRI), in the event of a home fire, a closed door can actually be an effective barrier against deadly levels of carbon monoxide, smoke, and flames—plus it might buy you more time to escape. Translation: Leaving your bedroom door open at night to keep your eye on your twinkling lights and Christmas tree might not be a very smart move after all.

We called on Steve Kerber, director of the UL FSRI to help us better understand the importance of closing your bedroom door at night. Read ahead for a breakdown of why you should “close before you doze” this season.

1. Fire is getting faster

“Forty years ago, we had 17 minutes to escape our homes in the event of a fire,” Kerber explains, “Today, due to synthetic materials, furniture, and construction, we now have three minutes or less to escape our homes.”

2. Closing the door buys you time

“Closing the bedroom door at night can give you more time to react and make a decision on how to get out when the smoke alarm sounds,” Kerber says.

3. A closed door can act like a barrier

“A closed door can slow the spread of fire, reduce toxic smoke levels, improve oxygen levels and decrease temperatures dramatically,” says Kerber, “and that could make a life-saving difference in your home.”

4. It’s changed how firefighters approach a burning home or building when they arrive at the scene.

“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,” said Kerber. “It is a very simple behavior change that can help save your life and your loved ones.”

Kerber’s Tips for Taking Fire Precautions at Home

1. Create and practice a fire escape plan with your family. “Visit every room with your family, make sure to have two ways out of every room, and decide on a designated meeting spot outside the house.”

2. Check your smoke alarms to make sure they work. “Roughly three out of five deaths happen in homes with no working smoke alarms or no smoke alarms at all. The UL FSRI recommends checking your smoke alarms monthly.”

3. Remember that smoke alarms expire. “Smoke alarms expire and need to be replaced every 10 years—another important reason to check yours on a monthly basis at home.”