Close the door: Fire officials say it can save your life - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Close the door: Fire officials say it can save your life

(FOX19) -

Before you go to bed, you’ll brush your teeth, make sure the doors are locked, and the lights are off. But there’s one thing you might not be doing that could save your life.

In the 1980s you had 17 minutes to get out of your house, but now, with the materials used to build homes and how fast they burn, that window is just 3 minutes.

Closing your bedroom door each night before you go to sleep could buy your family life saving seconds in a fire.

"Those valuable moments when you're trying to figure out what you need to do. Understand whether you can get out or not. And if you can't, that barrier between you and the fire is critical," Steve Kerber, a researcher who has conducted hundreds of studies with Underwriter's Laboratories, told our sister station WWBT.

Kerber's conducted hundreds of fire studies with Underwriter's Laboratories.

He travels the country working with fire departments, and said it’s critical to close the door.

"It's critical. It's a really simple message, and it could save your life in a fire,” he said.

He showed a recent test by setting a small flaming fire on the couch in a home with an open floor plan.

Upstairs there are two bedrooms, one with the door open and one with the door closed.

A minute and a half in smoke is pouring into the room with the door open.

At 3 minutes that room is filled with toxic, thick black smoke.

“You wouldn’t be able to breathe,” Kerber said.

At 5 minutes, the entire house is pitch black, but in the room with the door shut there's still visibility.

There's still air.

WWBT teamed up with a state-of-the-art training facility to show the science behind closing the door.

Using two photojournalists and six cameras -- covering all angles -- including the view from a firefighter, Capt. Scott Archibeque lit a flare and set a small flaming fire using wooden crates and straw.

"As the fire continues to grow it's sucking the oxygen from the room," said Archibeque.

As the fire starts to grow he shuts the window and the door.

"This smokes going to start to build and the heats going to start to build," he said.

Outside this room, there's barely any smoke in the hallway and you can breathe normally.

Inside the room, "we can see that the fire obviously is extremely warm and red in color. It's consuming the combustibles in the room. Right now we're probably a couple hundred degrees on the floor. Going across the ceiling it's probably 3 to 500 degrees."

The closed door changes the flow of dangerous heat and toxic gases in a fire.

"You can have quite a significant fire on the other side of that door, but because the door is closed it's giving you those seconds or even minutes that you may need to find an alternative way out," said Capt. Taylor Goodman.

Firefighters said it’s the smoke that often kills, long before the flames even reach you.

Also, check your smoke detectors every month. Wipe them down, replace them every 10 years and practice a fire escape plan with your family.

Copyright 2017 WXIX. All rights reserved. WWBT contributed to this report. 

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