Safety experts are urging people to add this simple task to their nighttime routines.

Meghan Overdeep
October 11, 2018

There’s one more thing that experts are urging people to add to their nighttime routine—and no, it’s not flossing.

According to a recent survey by the safety science organization UL, nearly 60% of people sleep with their bedroom door open. It may seem silly, but as Good Housekeeping points out, the simple act of closing your bedroom door could mean the difference between life or death in the event of a house fire. That’s because in addition to reducing toxic smoke, a closed door can help to limit the spread of flames by restricting oxygen and decreasing temperatures.

By limiting a fire’s ability to spread, closing your bedroom door at night also gives you more time to react when the smoke alarm goes off. And these days, every second counts. Because of the plastics in most modern furniture, house fires are more toxic and spread faster than ever before. The average time to escape a home fire has gone from 17 minutes to just three minutes or less in recent decades due to the prevalence of flammable materials and open floor plans. In fact, a September 2018 report by the National Fire Protection Agency concluded that residents are more likely to die in a home fire today than in 1980.

Unfortunately, most people sleep with the door open because they’re under the impression that it’s safer. In an effort to change that misconception, UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute (FSRI) has launched the Close Before You Doze campaign, which aims to demonstrate how closed doors can help save lives.

"As fire service researchers and professionals, we encourage people to take several precautions and have an evacuation plan but closing doors at night is one simple and quick routine that anyone can adopt right now," Steve Kerber, director of the UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute, said in a release. "It is a very simple behavior change that can help save your life and your loved ones."

For more information, visit CloseYourDoor.org.