I-Team: "Close before you doze" slows spread of deadly flames

Firefighters say close the bedroom door before sleeping

Minutes matter in a house fire. There's one simple way to slow the spread of deadly flames that won't cost you a dime. Fire chiefs across the country recommend you add "close before you doze" to your bedtime routine. I-Team Consumer Reporter Cynthia Gould checked out a house fire simulation from safety standards company UL. It shows how closing the bedroom door, can act as a barrier between you and a fire. It can protect you from smoke, flames and toxic gases giving you extra time to escape a house fire.

A test home was wired with sensors and cameras. The doors were closed on two bedrooms while another was left open. A fire was then set and it was clear the difference between the bedrooms. The smoke quickly overwhelmed the open door room while the closed room was much clearer.

The temperatures with the door open topped 500 degrees with 6,000 parts per million carbon monoxide. A household CO alarm would go off at 70 parts per million. Compare that to the room with the door closed: 100 degree temperature and CO levels ten times lower.

Birmingham Fire Captain Harold Watson says the reason a closed door is crucial, is simple. "It keeps you from getting overcome with toxic gases and carbon monoxide," explains Capt. Watson. A clear mind makes it easier to figure out an exit plan.

Years ago homes were furnished with things made of dense wood which are slow burning with low fumes. You would have an average of 17 minutes to get out in a house fire. Today you find houses full of synthetics and plastics which burn so quickly. Your estimated time to escape a fire is now less than three minutes. Fire experts say a closed bedroom door can mean the difference between life and death.

And don't forget your first line of defense: a smoke alarm. They should be on every level of the home and in every bedroom. So even with the door closed heavy sleepers will hear the alarm. The best spot to put them is above the doorway.

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