Open or Closed Doors at Night?

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It’s tricky being a parent and making decisions to keep your kids safe.  We want to be able to check quietly on infants and toddlers, so we try to minimize changes in light and sound when they are asleep.  Keep the door open or shut? Or ajar just a crack?

For teenagers, we want to respect their privacy, but also protect their sleep and their safety by assuring that their electronic devices—and their chargers—are not in bedrooms after “lights out.” Many parents are not comfortable with their children’s bedroom doors closed all night.

Parents want to protect their own privacy as well. Keeping a romantic relationship alive between husband and wife requires enough isolation and discretion for both partners to be relaxed during intimate moments. For that reason, many parents close their own doors at bedtime.

Others, especially dads, want to be able to hear intruders or the source of other unusual sounds or sights at night.

But there are compelling reasons to keep everyone’s bedroom doors closed all night, every night. According to the UL Firefighter Safety Institute, no one should sleep with an open bedroom door. They ran tests on both first-floor and upper-story bedrooms during fires. While those with closed doors kept temperatures under 100 degrees Fahrenheit, temperatures were upwards of 1000 degrees in open areas.

It is precisely because of the trend toward large open spaces in modern homes, as well as modern building materials and furniture, that newer homes are more flammable. The Institute’s director, Stephen Kerber, urges parents to close their own and their children’s doors at night because fires accelerate so quickly:

“It all leads to less time to get out of the home. . . Sleep with the bedroom door closed. If there is a fire, there is no time to act. If you are a parent with children in the home and that smoke alarm goes off potentially you cannot get to your children’s room because you’re cut off by smoke.

“If you close their door before you go to bed, if you’ve already put that safety barrier in place, then you know your children have longer to survive in that situation.”

How about you? Does this change your opinion about whether to sleep with the bedroom doors in your house closed?

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Since 1992, Dr. Robinson has worked in a variety counseling positions. She is also a popular author and speaker on topics ranging from childhood development and sexuality, teen issues, family dynamics including caring for elderly relatives, and church resources for families.

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