Close Before You Doze

Did you know that, in the event of a fire, there is a NINE HUNDRED degree difference in a closed door versus an open one? Danny Dwyer, firefighter and father, joins us in educating families about the importance of closing doors before you go to sleep.

Written by Danny Dwyer, Firefighter and Dad

Since 2008, Underwriters Laboratories (UL), has been conducting testing on horizontal fire  spread and the effects it may have on families asleep in their homes. The results were amazing!  This research gave birth to the “Close Before You Doze” campaign.  

“Close Before You Doze focuses on straightforward actions and simple behavioral changes which can provide critical help in delaying the spread of fire. This doesn’t require major effort, or going out and buying anything” said Stephen Kerber, Director of the UL Firefighter Safety Research  Institute (FSRI). During this testing, researchers found that by closing your standard, wooden bedroom door before you go to sleep, you can prevent toxic gasses and fire from getting into the room, saving lives and allowing firefighters more time to effect a rescue. To put this into context, the temperature in closed rooms is less than 100°F compared to over 1000°F in open door rooms!  

This goes far beyond what we, as firefighters, have taught for decades. This, coupled with working smoke alarms, working carbon monoxide alarms and having an escape plan, will  continue to reduce fire deaths to historic lows. By closing your children’s doors when they go to  sleep, you are taking one extra step to protecting them in the event of a fire in your home.  

Having working smoke alarms in each bedroom and alarms spaced adequately in common  areas, will also save lives. Some smoke detectors have batteries that will last 10 years! If not, we  recommend changing the batteries each time you change your clocks, twice a year.  

To ensure accountability of all family members, even the furry ones, it is suggested you  designate an escape plan. This is something that can (and should) be practiced frequently.  As early as kindergarten, firefighters start teaching this at school visits during Fire Safety Month in October each year. Most importantly, families need to designate a meeting spot away from the home in the event of a house fire. You could use your across-the-street neighbor’s oak tree or  mailbox. This is where everyone needs to gather, in case the entire family can’t exit the home  together. I can not state this enough, this must be practiced frequently.  

As parents, we are obligated to protect our children. We can not control every aspect of life;  sometimes, things just happen, but these tips are all in our control. 

Remember, you can save lives by doing these three simple things:

  1. Close before you doze
  2. Make sure you have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  3. Have an escape plan and practice it. 

Danny is a 22 year veteran of the fire service. He retired from the City of Atlanta Fire Rescue Department in May of 2020 as a Captain/Paramedic. He is currently a firefighter in Johns Creek, GA, just north of Atlanta. He lives in Canton with his wife Amy, their daughter Claire and their black lab, Jake. 

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