Here's what the experts have to say.
There are many reasons to keep your bedroom door open at night while you sleep – listening for children’s calls, circulating cool and warm air, being alerted to intruders or appliance malfunctions, and more.
There is one crucial reason to keep your bedroom door closed, however: surviving a fire.
Forty to fifty years ago, the average time needed to escape a house fire was 17 minutes. Home designs and the use of more natural materials in construction and furniture provided more time for escape.
Today, many home products, fabrics, and open floor plans create an “evolving fire environment” that allows a fire to spread and become more toxic faster. The synthetic materials commonly used today create poisonous fumes that can quickly overwhelm. Experts estimate you now have only 3 minutes to get out safely.
How Does Closing Your Door Help
The UL Firefighters Safety Research Institute (FSRI) conducted several tests to determine how rapidly fire spreads in a home where the bedroom doors are closed versus open. In Late 2020, they produced a video demonstration that reinforced their recommendation to “Close Before You Doze.”
Keeping bedroom doors closed at night keeps the smoke and flames at bay longer. By preventing oxygen from feeding the fire through freer air circulation, closed doors allow a home’s occupant precious minutes to escape.
“If you are a parent with children in the home and a smoke alarm goes off,” says Stephen Kerber, Director, UL FSRI, “potentially you cannot get to your children’s room because you are cut off by smoke. If you close their door before you go to bed, if you have already put that safety barrier in place, then you know your children have longer to survive.”
Having a fire escape plan for every bedroom is as important today as ever before since the safe escape time has decreased so much. Experts encourage families to practice their plan, have several escape routes available, and work out what to do if trapped in a bedroom while awaiting help.
If you can escape, Kerber also advises homeowners to close as many doors as safely possible while leaving to help keep the fire more contained. Your first priority, however, is always your personal and family safety.
Sources: readersdigest.com, ulfirefightersafety.org, nfpa.org