Simple fire safety tip can save lives
COLUMBIA - In recent months, more attention has been given to a little known fire safety tip. The UL Fire Safety Research Institute recently launched the “Close Your Door” campaign, advising everyone to close their interior doors at night.
Columbia Fire Department Battalion Chief Brad Frazier said this small precaution can make a big difference in keeping property and people safe.
“We can really see it in fire investigations. When you go into homes that have been on fire and are now put out, it’s very evident when doors are shut,” Frazier said. “There’s little smoke damage in those rooms that had a closed door versus those rooms on the other side that was damaged by smoke or fire.”
Frazier said firefighters use the technique while putting out fires. Shutting interior doors can make the fire more manageable.
According to the National Fire Protection Agency, about half of fires in the home start between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.
“Things tend to happen when we’re not paying attention to them. Things get out of control a little bit quicker,” Frazier said.
However, not everyone is comfortable with leaving their doors closed at night. Many parents of small children prefer to keep doors open to hear if anything unexpected happens overnight. Sheila Robertson, Coordinator of Pediatric Injury Prevention for SafeKids Columbia, said there are ways to do both.
“Invest in the baby monitors so you can hear what’s going on in their rooms, and that should make you feel better about what’s going on,” Robertson said.
For additional surveillance, Robertson suggests placing video monitors in the house. Frazier adds every home should be armed with an interconnected smoke alarm system. Having one installed outside of the bedroom door will let people hear the alarm, even when it’s shut.
According to Frazier, if you know a fire is burning outside of the bedroom, keep the door closed, plug up the space underneath the door with a towel or something else that will keep smoke out. Then get to a window. If you safely can, exit through the window. If not, make yourself visible to firefighters so they can help you out.
“Every second counts. Even if it’s up to 30 seconds, it can make a difference,” Frazier said. “Keeping smoke out, and heat especially, is really critical, and shutting a door, as simple as that sounds can be a big part of that.”