Unlike many children, when I young I never had an issue with sleeping with my bedroom door closed. The light from the hallway would disturb my slumber, so I didn't want to take any chances.
Even now as an adult, I have a hard time getting comfortable enough to fall asleep if the door isn't completely shut.
Since most of my friends and family members have the same habit, I just assumed that the majority of people kept their doors shut at night, but it turns out, I've been wrong all along.
According to a recent survey by the safety science organization UL, about 60% of people leave their doors open while they sleep.
While this may seem like another trivial fact you can bring up to fill an awkward silence, the UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute (FSRI) wants you to know that the choice you make could be the difference between life and death when a fire breaks out in your home.
For this year's National Fire Prevention Week, which runs between October 7 and 13th, UL is educating the population on the dangers of leaving the door ajar.
According to research they've compiled over the last decade, fires spread faster today than 40 years ago because of "modern synthetic construction materials, home furnishings, and contemporary layouts."
Having your door closed can save your life because not only will it keep the flames from spreading too fast, it could protect you from toxic smoke levels, decrease temperatures, and improve oxygen levels.
The organization launched the "Close Before You Doze" campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of failing to close the door while you sleep. They even filmed demonstrations that show the difference between how a fire burns in a open room in contrast to a closed one.
If you're having a hard time getting into the habit of closing your door, join the UL's "Closed Door Crew" and take the pledge to keep you accountable.
While we're on the topic of home safety, you should also check that your carbon monoxide alarm isn't expired and still functions properly.
Each year, more than 450 Americans lose their lives to gas leaks. The "silent killer" is tasteless, odorless and colorless, so unless you have a working alarm, you will never know that the gas has been released into your home.
You should be replacing your alarm every seven years, but experts recommended doing so even sooner.
Since October is Fire Safety Month, here are more tips to follow to ensure you and your family are protected at all times:
- Keep at least one smoke alarm and at least one gas detector on each level of your home
- Position alarms outside of sleeping areas to help warn your family of an emergency at any time.
- Test smoke alarms often with the "test" button, and replace their batteries once a year.
- Replace any smoke alarms after 10 years, and any gas detectors after seven, but follow any expiry labels on these devices.
- When any alarm makes a low power chirping sound, replace its batteries right away - don't leave it for tomorrow!
- Gently vacuuming your smoke alarm every six months can help keep it in good condition - just unhook the device first, then be sure to turn it on again after.
- Make a fire safety plan for your family (including emergency exits and flashlight locations) and make sure everyone learns it by heart.