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New Mattress Mandate Keeps Bedrooms Safer

It might not be a coincidence that the fatal fire earlier this week in Charlestown, S.C. occurred at a furniture warehouse. Furniture, especially beds, is a serious fire hazard. Almost 21,000 fires are blamed on mattresses and bedding annually.

The Early Show consumer correspondent Susan Koeppen discussed ways to keep your home safe.

Fire, oxygen and a furniture warehouse were a deadly combination. Nine firefighters lost their lives Monday trying to extinguish the burning sofas and mattresses that allowed a fire to spread quickly.

Last year, Koeppen showed how rapidly a simple fire can spread in an average suburban home. Click here for the story.

On Wednesday, the Consumer Products Safety Commission announced a new federal mattress standard in an effort to make homes safer.

The change is designed to reduce the number of mattress fires from open-flame sources such as candles and lighters. The agency estimates the new rule could prevent as many as 270 deaths a year. About 360 people die each year from residential mattress fires, according to the commission.

The new performance standard, approved in February 2006, limits the amount of heat released in a mattress fire.

A typical mattress will burn in a matter of minutes. The new mattresses burn slower and less intensely, which will give consumers more time to escape a fire.

Koeppen notes that you should purchase a new mattress after July 1, 2007, when the safer mattresses will be available. Look for the specific label that indicates that the bed meets the new standard.

Now that a standard has been mandated for mattresses, the CPC will begin to address issues with other furniture in the home.

Bedrooms are the second most common place for a home fire. The kitchen is first.