How to Tell If a Door Is Hot in a Fire?

Liza Blau

Fires are the third leading cause of accidental death in the United States, according to the University of Oklahoma Police Department. If you're caught in a fire, In less than 30 seconds even a small flame can grow out of control and become a major blaze.

Learning how to tell when it's safe to open a door during a fire can mean the difference between life and death.


If the door is cool to the touch, close all doors behind you as you leave the building. If you must pass through smoke, crawl beneath the smoke and cover your mouth with a towel or piece of clothing.

If you are unable to escape the fire, hang an article of clothing or sheet out the window to signal for help.

A closed door can protect you from the flames and thick black smoke, but it also may lead to an escape route. Learning how to tell if a door is safe to open during a fire could save your life.

  1. Place the back of your hand against the top and sides of the door, doorknob, and the crack between the door and door frame. Do not open the door if it feels hot to the touch.

  2. Lean your shoulder against the door and open it slowly, but only if it feels cool. If smoke and heat enter, slam the door shut. Make sure it's tightly closed.

  3. Stuff damp towels or wet paper into the crack under the door if you have no other escape route. Seal air ducts and cracks around the door with duct tape. Open the windows for oxygen, but close them immediately if smoke or flames rush in. Wait for the fire department to arrive.