“Close Your Door” Aims To Help Save Lives With a Twist on Fire Safety Tips
Consumer outreach campaign is the result of 10+ years of research on better understanding how fire spreads throughout homes.
- The UL Institute’s Fire Safety messaging encourages consumers to “Close Your Door” on fire to help contain its spread.
- While 40 years ago there was 17 minutes to escape, today due to many changes in homes and furnishings these is as little as 3 minutes to escape a fire.
- UL FSRI research reveals closed doors dramatically decrease heat and CO levels versus open, providing trapped occupants more time for help to arrive.
Making fire safety education entertaining to drive consumer adoption. www.CloseYourDoor.org
The UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute has begun production on a fire safety consumer outreach initiative that is the result of over a decade of proprietary research aimed at better understanding how fire spreads throughout homes. One of the most important components of this initiative is a public service announcement (PSA) entitled “Close Your Door.” The PSA will teach and encourage new fire safety information in a memorable music video that furthers the ongoing mission of the UL.
“Close Your Door” 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,” says FSRI director and program lead Stephen Kerber. “It’s very easy to implement once you have the knowledge.”
Top takeaways from fire safety research.
UL’s Firefighter Safety Research Institute (FSRI) research on fire service horizontal ventilation, begun in 2008, analyzed the effect of doors and windows on a fire’s spread. Bedrooms on the first and second floor of a home were tested during the scenario.
Using hundreds of temperature sensors, researchers found that closed-door rooms on both floors during the fire’s spread had average temperatures of less than 100 degrees Fahrenheit versus 1000+ degrees in the open-door rooms. “You could see a markable difference that a person could be alive in a room with a closed door much longer,” says Kerber.
Gas concentrations were markedly different as well. The open-door bedroom measured an extremely toxic 10,000 PPM CO (parts per million of Carbon Monoxide), while the closed had approximately 100 PPM CO.
UL FSRI conducts research igniting a fire in a family room of a 3200 square foot home and measuring the conditions in two bedrooms on the second floor. One bedroom has an open door and the other bedroom has a closed door. See how the two fires behave differently in this video.
What is the “evolving fire environment?”
Publicizing new fire safety techniques for preventing its spread is more essential today than ever, the team’s research revealed, due to what Kerber’s calls the “evolving fire environment.” He explains how “We started to see that the furnishings, open layout, and construction materials of modern homes allow the fire to spread and become more toxic much faster. It all leads to less time to get out of the home.”
My first piece of advice is “Sleep with the bedroom door closed,” Kerber continues. “If there is a fire, there is little time to act.” Something that came up “again, and again” in UL FSRI’s fire safety research was “just how much safer” the simulated occupant would be when they were behind a closed door.
“If you are a parent with children in the home and that smoke alarm goes off”, advises Kerber, “potentially you cannot get to your children’s room because you’re cut off by smoke. If you close their door before you go to bed, if you’ve already put that safety barrier in place, then you know your children have longer to survive in that situation.”
UL FSRI conducts research burning two residential fires, one composed of materials commonly used in the 1970s, the other composed of common materials used today. See how the two fires behave differently in this video.
Saving lives starts with simple steps.
Based on these findings, “Close Your Door” encourages those both trapped in a room during a fire as well as those who can safely leave a home to close as many doors as possible. “People think, ‘Well, there’s smoke in my house. I want to let the smoke out,’” says Kerber. “Yes, you’re letting the smoke out, but you’re letting the air in, and that’s where the problem occurs. With the doors and windows closed, the fire won’t have oxygen to burn and it’s going to stay right there, giving other people in the house more time to get out and also helping protect your property.”
Kerber hopes that “Close Your Door” finds the same cultural ubiquity for fire safety awareness in our modern era as “Stop, Drop & Roll.” “What we need is a modern message,” says Kerber. “If Stop, Drop & Roll is for when your clothes are on fire, “Close Your Door” is for when your house is on fire and you cannot get out. It’s the modern version of what needs to be done.”
The PSA launched on October 19, 2016, alongside a website housing additional consumer fire safety tips and resources. Visit the site at www.CloseYourDoor.org, as well as other Fire Safety research-related initiatives, follow UL FSRI on Facebook.
- “Impact of Ventilation on Fire Behavior in Legacy and Contemporary Residential Construction”, pp. 299-300.
- “Analysis of Changing Residential Fire Dynamics and Its Implications on Firefighter Operational Timeframes”
- “Study of the effectiveness of Fire Service Vertical Ventilation and Suppression Tactics in Single Family Homes”, pp. 306,307
- 5 minutes – the fire containment ability of interior doors during a well-ventilated compartment fire is approximately 5 min1
- 700% – How much longer on average it took a room furnished with natural materials to reach flashover as compared to a room filled with synthetic materials.1
- 52% – The percentage of civilian fire fatalities in residential buildings during the time period of 11pm to 7am.2
In the News
- The Today Show “New research to stay alive in a deadly fire close your door”
- NBC5 Dallas Fort Worth Investigates How Closed Doors Can Provide Life Saving Seconds in House Fires
- NBC6 Miami “Close the Door: It Can Provide Life Saving Seconds in Fires”
- WSAZ “Fire department warns people to shut their bedroom door”