MESA, Ariz. - The Mesa Fire and Medical Department is among agencies getting behind the "Close Before You Doze" safety campaign -- encouraging people to shut bedroom doors before going to sleep.
"That door buys us time in the case that we have something going on," said Deputy Mesa Fire Chief Forrest Smith, who took us through a simulation at the department's training facility.
Smith said most deadly residential fires happen between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. -- when families are sleeping. Stoves or heating appliances can spark nearby items, the most common cause of house fires.
When someone is sleeping, Smith said, gases in smoke can cause them to become unconscious. Without a working smoke detector -- and without some sort of barrier -- they may never have time to react, he said.
According to the campaign, 40-years ago, families had about 17 minutes to escape a house fire. Today, thanks to new building materials containing a variety of chemicals, that time has dropped to three minutes.
Smith said closing doors and, more importantly, having tested, working smoke alarms is key to safeguarding a home.
Alarms should be replaced every ten years and regularly tested. Parents should also talk with their kids about an escape plan, he said.