MARY MEAUX — Close before You Doze can save lives

Published 12:05 am Thursday, August 26, 2021

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Through the years we have been taught fire safety — stop, drop and roll; have working smoke alarms in homes; and have a place for your family to meet in case you have to rush out due to a fire.

All of these are great lifesaving tips but I learned of one more tactic recently. It’s called “Close Before You Doze.”

Port Arthur Fire Chief Greg Benson, who was hired recently, brought me up to speed on the fire safety education tool.

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Underwriters Laboratories’ Fire Safety Research Institute identified some important factors leading to the memorable slogan that Benson elaborated on.

Fires in homes burn faster than they did 40 years ago, the fire chief said.

“And that’s because of the newer materials in homes,” Benson said. “A lot of materials are synthetic, plastic-based as opposed to ordinary wood or wool.”

Forty years ago, a person would have 17 minutes to escape a house fire; today that number is three minutes due to the speed of the spread of the fire.

In addition, having your bedroom door closed at night, which is when most fatal fires occur, is a lifesaver.

The temperature with an open door rises to 1,000 degrees but inside a room with the door closed the temperature can reach 100 degrees — that’s a big difference to say the least.

There is the issue of deadly carbon monoxide, which is odorless and tasteless. A closed door can drastically drop the amount of carbon monoxide reaching the room.

Benson said the “Close Before You Doze” initiative is intended to give you time to wake up as the smoke detector is going off and escape through a window or other option.

“Roughly three out of five fatal fires where there are no working smoke detectors and about half the fire fatalities occur from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., when people are sleeping,” Benson said.

He offered some safety tips:

  • Make sure there are smoke detectors outside your bedroom and that they are working. There is a small “test” button you can push to see if the detector beeps.
  • Consider closing your bedroom doors before you go to sleep. This will help prevent the fire from spreading and provide an opportunity to escape the home.
  • If you have family at home, you should identify where they should go when they escape. For example, if the home has a mother, father and two kids, they can met by a tree in the front yard.

One of the things that happens when the fire crews arrive on scene (remember their first priority is rescue) is to see who is out front and ask if anyone is still inside the home. If someone is still inside, firefighters should be told where, such as second floor back bedroom. That way the crew can initiate plans to rescue the person and attack the blaze.

Visit to find more information about “Close Before You Doze” and other fire safety tips.


Mary Meaux is a news reporter at The Port Arthur News. She can be reached at