KEEP THE DOOR CLOSED

Close-Door-3Good stuff box-gs-600By Gary Ryman

It’s a phrase that makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck.  The door almost became a character in that horror movie or perhaps the one about Zombies you watched last night.  An unusual vague and simple phrase.  You wouldn’t think it had life or death implications, except perhaps in Hollywood, but it does.  It’s not to protect against robbers, villains, or zombies; it’s a simple way to protect against a faster and more dangerous threat: fire.

Because of the changing fuel load in our homes, the amounts of synthetic and plastic materials versus the metal, wood, and cotton of previous times, the speed at which fire develops has accelerated.  Studies show, fire development in those earlier times left individuals or families as much as seventeen minutes in which to escape.  Today, that has been reduced to three minutes or less.  The “open concept” designs of newer homes and the lightweight construction materials in use today are contributing factors.

The first line of defense is and remains smoke detectors.  Early warning allows you the maximum available to time to escape.  But what if you can’t.

That simple ordinary bedroom door becomes your best friend.  Keeping that door closed can provide a survivable environment for the extra time needed to possibly find a second way out, through a window, perhaps, or allow the fire department the necessary time to arrive and assist.  Will the door last forever under fire conditions?  Absolutely not; the time is measured in minutes, but those minutes may be enough.

Picture a raging fire rolling through a house with viscous black smoke and unsurvivable temperatures reaching 1000 degrees F outside that closed door.  Research has shown that within the room behind that door, limited smoke and an uncomfortable but manageable temperature of 100 degrees can be maintained for a few minutes.

This knowledge is leading many fire departments to strongly recommend we all sleep with closed bedroom doors.  Again, this is not intended to replace properly installed and maintained smoke detectors.  It supplements them and aids in the escape process.

Many people, parents in particular, argue they won’t hear their children at night if the doors are closed, and this is a valid concern.  The use of an inexpensive baby monitor can easily resolve this issue.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that in 2015, there were 1,345,500 fires reported in the United States.  These fires resulted in 3,280 civilian deaths, 15,700 civilian injuries, and $14.3 billion in property damage.  Of the total, 501,500 were structure fires, causing 2,685 civilian deaths, 13,000 civilian injuries, and $10.3 billion in property damage.  Not surprisingly, more than half the reported deaths occurred at night.

That conventional bedroom door, already hanging there in the frame, provides a great partner with your smoke detectors in helping to reduce the deaths and injuries from fire.  Click it closed tonight when you go to bed and sleep safely.

For more information, particularly for children, visit www.closeyourdoor.org.