Words to live by: ‘Close before you doze”
It seems like such a simple concept.
But it could save your life.
It’s amazing how many people ignore it – or simply aren’t aware of it.
So what is it? It’s a very important lesson imparted this week during a training session at the Delaware County Emergency Services Training Center in Darby Township.
On Tuesday, they literally burned down a building to prove their point.
And the point is this: We should all be sleeping with our bedroom door closed.
Why? In the event of a fire – and of course we all hope we never actually have to put this into practice – it could save your life by slowing down the spread of the fire, possibly allowing firefighters more time to rescue you from your burning home.
Maybe it’s a parenting thing. Parents are always concerned about their kids. That extends to the time when all are tucked safely into bed. Many parents take to sleeping with their bedroom door open so they can hear if their kids are up or squirming, or some other late-night action.
It’s a habit fire officials want us to break. And they have the facts to break it up.
As part of Monday’s demonstration, county fire officials stressed the findings of researchers that indicate sleeping behind a closed door can save your life in the event of a fire in your home.
The conclusion comes as the result of more than a decade of research conducted by the Underwriters Laboratories Firefighter Safety Research Institute.
They even came up with a snappy way of reminding us of this potential life-saving practice: “Close Before You Doze.”
To prove their point, Steve Kerber, the director of the Underwriters institute, visited the county Emergency Services Training Center in Darby Township for a little experiment.
Joined by a phalanx of firefighters from across the region, they staged a fire, complete with a live-burn of a home constructed with current building materials.
They even filled it with furniture. Then they lit a candle, which ignited one of the sofas. In a matter of minutes, the home was engulfed in flames.
Those minutes are crucial, and it’s why fire officials are pushing the practice of sleeping behind a closed door. The reason is simple. Often times those minutes are the difference between life and death. The closed door slows down the spread of the fire, and lessens the heat building up inside a room. Very often it can mean the difference life and death, affording firefighters a few more crucial minutes to get to residents who might be still be alive inside the closedoff room.
That’s the worse-case scenario. There also is a more practical side, also demonstrated by this week’s live-burn training session.
Closing a door also lessens the damage from the fire. As part of the experiment, officials closed the door to two bedrooms while leaving one other open. The photos and paintings in the closed-off rooms were almost unaffected by the inferno. The ones in the open bedroom were destroyed. The same was witnessed for the bedding and furniture.
But the real lesson stressed here by officials is the hope that they can save lives, that a closed door will afford firefighters precious minutes to get to the people who might be behind that door.
“If there’s someone behind that closed door … they are most likely a savable life,” Kerber said. He contrasted that with someone unconscious in an open bedroom. The chance of them surviving the blaze diminishes.
Of course, fire officials stress that closing doors is only one part of an overall family safety plan. At the top of that list remains working smoke detectors, which can alert those inside to a fire and give them a chance to escape a burning structure altogether.
Mike Alt knows a little something about fire. He’s a firefighter and is also with the institute. And he had this to say about the new push to keep doors closed.
“Minutes are everything in a fire,” he commented. “Minutes are life versus death in today’s fires with today’s furnishings.”
He noted that studies indicate there was a time when people had an average of 17 minutes to escape a burning structure after a smoke alarm sounds, the initial detection of a problem. Today, in part because of the materials used in construction and contents inside the house, that time has dropped to three minutes or less.
This week’s session at the county Emergency Services Training Center provided a valuable – life-saving – lesson every citizen should embrace. “Close before you doze.” Words to live by. Literally.
Smoke and fire billows from living room windows during this week’s live-burn demonstration at the county Emergency Services Training Center in Darby Township. The program pushed the notion of closing bedroom doors before going to bed at night.