PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) - While it may seem the exact opposite of your natural instinct, firefighters are spreading a message that could save your life in a fire.
Firefighters have long known that a closed bedroom door can keep smoke out and heavy heat away, but new research proves sleeping with the door shut can buy you life-saving seconds.
"When you have a fire, of course, it has to have oxygen," Paragould Fire Chief Kevin Lang said. "If the fire is compartmentalized to where as it burns it consumes part of that oxygen and oxygen is not introduced, it can actually become oxygen-deficient and burn itself out."
Lang said you have just a few valuable moments to decide if you can get out through the bedroom door or not, often by checking how hot the door is with your hand.
If you can't leave that way, the barrier between you and the fire is critical.
"You see that a little bit more in the fires we have these days because houses are built tighter, they are built with house wrap," Lang said. "However, the problem is once you breach another room or exterior windows then you have that oxygen introduced so that fire is going to pick up.
That was demonstrated during a test done by researchers at Underwriters Laboratories.
They set a small fire on the couch in a home with an open floor plan.
Upstairs, there was one bedroom with the door open and one with the door closed.
A minute and a half into the experiment, smoke began pouring into the room with the open door. At three minutes, that room was filled with thick, black smoke.
At five minutes in, the entire house was pitch black, except for the room with the door shut. There was still some visibility there, meaning there was still air to breathe.
Another test by Virginia firefighters showed what a fire would do if it was in an enclosed room.
As the fire began to grow, sucking the oxygen from the room, the firefighter shut the window and door.
Outside the room, there was barely any smoke in the hallway, people there could breathe.
Inside, the fire was consuming the combustible items in the rooms, reaching around 500 degrees at the ceiling.
The closed door changed the flow of dangerous heat and toxic gases from the fire as it found the path of least resistance.
That is so important because it is the smoke that often kills a person, long before the flames ever reach them.
And while many parents say children will not sleep with the door shut, it is recommended that they let kids fall asleep with it open then remember to shut the door before going to bed each night.
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