If you are suspicious that there is a fire on the other side of a door, there are several ways to determine it one way or the other.

You must already be suspicious. Your smoke detector may be buzzing, or you hear people yelling outside your hotel room door.

  • If you have a peephole, look through it to see if you can spot some smoke or flames. Do not put your head against the door, you can get burned.

  • Do not grab the doorknob. If there is a fire right outside your door, your hand will be seriously injured due to the heat conduction through the metal hardware. If you need to check the doorknob or the door for heat, always use the back of your hand. This way, if your hand gets burned you are not handicapped. If you need to climb down a rope or ladder, it is very difficult if your palm is unusable.

  • If the door and knob is not hot, you can crack the door open. Keep your eye on the top of your door. If there is smoke, it will normally be towards the ceiling. If there is no smoke, attempt to exit the building or perform a visual sweep of your house.

  • If there is smoke, close the door immediately. Use a phone to call for help, then wet some towels and place them on the cracks in your door, especially at the bottom.

  • Do not attempt to brave your way through a burning house or building unless the fire is in your room. Wait for the fire department to rescue you.

These are generic rules. Use your best judgement. If you live out in the boonies, get out and call from a neighbor's house because it will take a while for the distant fire department to get out to where you live. Just keep these points in mind. Hopefully you won't need them.

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