Should people sleep with the door open or closed to best protect themselves in the event of a home fire?

Blog Post created by audreycooney Employee on May 13, 2016

shutterstock_82144921 (002).jpgShould you sleep with your bedroom door opened or closed? It’s a straightforward question, but the answer isn’t quite so clear-cut. Many variables, including where people sleep in their homes and the location of their smoke alarms, make it challenging to craft a one-size-fits-all answer.


In response to the latest research, NFPA’s Educational Messages Advisory Committee (EMAC) recently modified its messaging regarding sleeping with the door closed. The updated message states that, “a closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire. Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room and outside each separate sleeping area. For the best protection, make sure all smoke alarms are interconnected.”


EMAC has also recommended the need for additional research to look at other factors, such as whether or not a closed door could delay early warning from a smoke alarm outside the sleeping room, along with how a closed door will impact the rate of fatalities when the fire begins in the room where the door is closed.


“While there are so many variables to where a fire starts and how it spreads, anything that can potentially give you more time to get out should be considered,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of NFPA’s Outreach and Advocacy division. “You could have as little as two minutes to escape a home fire, compared to seven to eight minutes years ago. Smoke alarms can provide the crucial early warning that often has a significant impact on the outcome of home fires.”


Carli added that while having working smoke alarms is of tantamount importance, installing fire sprinklers in the home is an even better way to lessen the threat of fire.


Texas NBC affiliate, NBCDFW, ran an investigative segment detailing the updated guidelines, including an interview with Carli that covers the new closed door messaging and the importance of smoke alarms and sprinklers.


Check out our escape planning and smoke alarm resources and information, including our safety tip sheets, which reflect NFPA’s revised position on this issue.