Even if you follow all the standard home fire safety tips, you may be missing this vital action that could potentially save your life.

By Lauren Phillips
October 11, 2018
Henrik Sorensen/Getty Images

Plenty of home fire safety tips call for preparation; they’re actions to be taken long before there’s ever any danger of a fire. Fire prevention tips cover things such as not using frayed electrical cords and keeping a fire extinguisher in the house. Other tips are habits, including never smoking in bed—but there’s one habit that many families may be forgetting.

According to global independent safety science company UL’s Firefighter Safety Research Institute (FSRI), closing your bedroom door every night before going to sleep could be life-saving. During a nighttime fire, a closed bedroom door can slow the fire’s spread, reduce smoke levels, and provide a barrier against deadly levels of carbon monoxide.

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Closing your bedroom door at night can give you more time to escape a dangerous blaze or keep you safe longer while you wait for authorities. The UL FSRI says the average time people have to escape a home fire has plummeted over the last 40 years from 17 minutes to just three, mostly because of changes in home furnishings, layouts, and construction. With only three minutes to get out of the house, every second counts, and the added time from a closed bedroom door could mean the critical difference between life and death.

This is one simple fire prevention routine that you can start immediately, even (and especially) if you aren’t prepared for a fire in other ways. A survey of more than 3,000 people by the UL FSRI found that only 28 percent always slept with their doors closed, though 60 percent of parents with fire escape plans slept with their bedroom doors open, mistakenly thinking it will keep them safer.

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To help spread the word during National Fire Prevention Week, the UL FSRI launched the Close Before You Doze public safety campaign. Spread the word, and start sleeping with your bedroom door closed: It could save your life.