Topic of the 2019 Campaign: close the door!

Why organizing this fortnight?

The so-called "Security Fortnight", which is the annual campaign for fire prevention, took place from 14 to 29 September 2019.

The motto of the campaign was "Close the door". We insist on the importance of closing inner doors to block smoke and fire a little longer.

The « Security Fortnight » fits in with the policy of the Belgian FPS Home Affairs to help the Fire and Rescue services zones raise citizens' awareness and highlight their responsibility. Our target audience is the citizen as well as the fire prevention advisor.

Close the door!

Through this prevention campaign, we aim at sending out the message to the citizens that is of vital importance to close inner doors, especially at night. We also clarify the measures to take in case of fire. Furthermore, it is necessary to place an adequate number of smoke detectors, as you cannot so easily hear their alarm when the door is closed.

Most victims of home fires die of toxic fumes and not the fire itself.

2019's houses contain many materials, such as plastics, that rapidly release very toxic fumes in case of fire. Therefore, the occupants often only have 3 minutes to escape a burning house safely!

The longer you can keep smoke in one room, the longer the other rooms of the house remain safe enough to avoid you going through smoke. So people have more time to escape safely.

Reason why this straightforward message "Close the door" is necessary. Indeed, people do not generally close the inner doors of their home. Moreover, not all houses have doors everywhere...

Important to note:

  • Even an ordinary inner door (that is not fire-resistant) blocks smoke for a while;
  • So is your escape route not filled with smoke for up to 10 more minutes;
  • In case of fire, the temperature of a room can remain up to 500 °C lower if the door is closed;
  • There are more deaths when fires strike during the night. Percentage varies according to the source (in the United States, half of the victims die in fires occurring at night; in Belgium this percentage drops to less than 40%).

You can follow the advice of closing the doors in two different situations:

  • When you go to bed at night
  • When you escape the house in case of smoke or fire. In the last situation, it will help reduce the spread of fire while waiting for the Fire and Rescue services to arrive.

When an inner door is closed, it not only blocks smoke but also the sounds. In addition, when a door is closed, you cannot easily hear a smoke detector.

Reason why it is all the more important to install a sufficient number of smoke detectors. If you invest a little bit more money, you can buy interconnectable smoke detectors. If one of the interconnected smoke detectors detects smoke, all the interconnected smoke detectors immediately send a signal so you can hear that a dangerous situation is occurring in another room.

A minimum budget is enough to provide an appropriate protection for your home:

  • An average house must be equipped with about five smoke detectors. Each costs about 25 euros;
  • With this unique investment of 125 euros, your home is protected for a 10-year period;
  • On a year basis, this protection only costs 12.5 euros, in other words barely more than 1 euro per month!
  • The interconnected smoke detectors are a little more expensive;
  • With three interconnected smoke detectors (and two ordinary detectors), an appropriate protection only costs 1.5 euro per month.

So, in short:

  • Close as many inner doors as possible before going to bed;
  • Place a sufficient number of smoke detectors and interconnect them if necessary or possible;
  • Test regularly your smoke detectors and if they are in use for more than 10 years, replace them by a smoke detector with a 10-year autonomy.

Escape plan

Do not forget to adapt the escape plan, which every member of the household will have discussed and practiced beforehand. The door closing stage is also included in the plan.

You can prepare your escape plan beforehand 

  • In order to get out immediately, determine the fastest and safest way to escape beforehand.

It is generally not the front door. Consider also an alternative route in case the first one would be blocked (i.e. through the back door or a window).

  • Make sure the key is close to the door so you can rapidly get out of the house;
  • Smoke will reduce your visibility.  As hot smoke rises, you will see more clearly and have more fresh air by staying as close to the floor as possible;
  • Phones (in which emergency numbers are registered) and torches are essential in case of fire. Make sure you always keep it handy, for instance in your bedside table;
  • Do not forget your glasses or your hearing aid and think about what you are going to do with your pet.

There are two possibilities for the escape plan:

  • either the escape route (or one of the escape routes) is free from smoke and you can escape the house,
  • or the emergency exit is blocked and you cannot escape the house.

If you can safely escape 

  • Close all the doors behind you;
  • Go to the agreed meeting place;
  • Call the 112 emergency number;
  • Wait outside for the fire brigade to arrive.

If the escape route is blocked with smoke and you cannot safely escape the house 

  • Keep low to the floor and follow your escape route. If you can't do this, stay in a room where there is no smoke;
  • Close the door of the room in which you are;
  • Call the 112 emergency number;
  • Tell them where you are and wait for the fire brigade to arrive.