Over the years, our sleeping habits become ingrained in us — what side of the bed we sleep on, how many blankets we use, our favored sound machine, and even whether we sleep with the bedroom door opened or closed. For most of these variables, it's a matter of personal preference that holds little or no weight on your safety. But it turns out that certain habits, like leaving your bedroom door open at night, aren't a great idea. Curious? Here's why you should close your bedroom door at night, according to a firefighter.
I spoke with Jackson Township, Ohio firefighter and Officer-In-Charge, Joe McKnight, and he tells Romper that it is essential that everyone, especially children, sleep with their bedroom doors closed. The reason for that is because kids often sleep right through a fire alarm, and if their bedroom door is open, the smoke will invade their room quickly, which can be extremely dangerous. Smoke inhalation is a potentially deadly injury, and the bedroom door provides an additional layer of protection between the source of the smoke and your child. The same is true for parents. While you might not sleep through the alarm as easily as your toddler, you still need that buffer between yourself and the smoke.
McKnight says that in conjunction with the safer sleeping practice of closing the door at night, you and your family also need to practice an "Exit drill in the home, or EDITH, for short." You need to design a place to meet up, teach your children to crawl beneath the smoke, how to test the door handle for heat, and what to do if they don't hear you coming for them. The EDITH is not a "do it once and you're done" activity. Just like when you were in school, it needs to be routine. The National Fire Prevention Council has great plans and ideas for drills available on its Fire Facts website.
Children need this routine, because as McKnight says, "kids panic." He notes that in a fire, children will "seek out a place of refuge, and hide under their bed or in the closet." This is especially dangerous not only because parents might miss them when they check their room, but also because it takes longer for firefighters to find them in the event of an emergency. Instead, he urges parents to tell their children to "get to the window," if they're unable to leave their room.
Most municipalities offer fire safety education or outreach programs at local fairs and festivals. It makes sense to take advantage of these programs, and speak with firefighters to ensure that your EDITH drills and plans are the best they can be.
One thing that McKnight stresses is that there needs to be a working smoke detector and carbon monoxide alarm on every floor of your home, and one close to the bedrooms. Full disclosure, McKnight is my cousin, and he was the one who helped me pick out my fire alarms when I lost the majority of my hearing. The first thing he said was, "This is all well and good, but if you forget to change the batteries, it won't matter either way."
And they work. I know this because I am blinded every time I set my grill pan on fire, which happens with embarrassing frequency.
Getting your EDITH plan together, making sure your smoke detectors are working, and sleeping with the door closed are all small things that can mean the difference between life and death for you or your children, and in the end, that is far more important than anything else.