Consumer products sold and used in North America must meet stringent standards not seen in all countries. Essentially, after years of legislative change and manufacturing standard advancement, you can expect products you buy here to be among the safest and highest quality in the world. Still, many of the elements used in our products are flammable. This is as true in mattresses, as any other line of consumer products, particularly clothing and home furnishings. However, you can expect the products you buy at your mattress store to have been fully tested and approved according to strict government requirements.
History of Mattress Flammability
The California legislature was among the first in North America to require all mattresses sold in that geography to be fire retardant. That law came into being in 1970 after studies showed that mattresses could ignite or exacerbate a household fire. In the next few years, the bedding industry worked to write the first national standard on mattress flammability, in conjunction with the U.S. Product Safety Commission. That standard became law in 1973, requiring that all mattresses sold in an American mattress store resist ignition from a burning cigarette.
In 1986, the Sleep Products Safety Council was developed under the International Sleep Products Association. This organization came into being to encourage and support research into mattress flammability and the flammability of other sleep products. It also established to change the industry toward hazard reduction. At a SPSC meeting in 1993, participants reviewed increasing trends in bedding fires and how mattresses may or may not have played a role. As a result, organization officials met again in 1994 to specifically discuss how open-flame mattress fires occurred. These discussions and associated studies resulted in stricter federal standards for mattress flammability.
Industry experts continued discussing measures available for reducing mattress flammability in the early 2000s under the ISPA. In 2007 in the United States, a new law required all mattresses sold in the country to contain enough fire retardant to prevent a fire caused by a two-foot wide blowtorch held onto the materials for 70 seconds.
As of June 2016, Canadian law requires combustion resistance. This resistance must stand up to testing under the Canadian General Standards Board’s requirements called “Textile Test Methods – Combustion Resistance of Mattresses – Cigarette Test.” This standard was published in April 2013 and specifies the permissible level of melting or charring a mattress surface may experience under cigarette testing. It also restricts test cigarette combustion. Meeting the standards requires testing of a manufacturer’s products and limits how many test failures can occur.
Checking Mattress Flammability When Buying Your New Mattress
When you visit a mattress store, it is important to compare products based on your sleep requirements, sleep style, physical condition and other individual needs for quality sleep. Of course, North American laws do all they can to protect consumers, such as those buying and sleeping on mattresses. While you can trust that legislation is in your best interest, you can also check mattress flammability and other standards on product guides associated with specific brands and product models. Also talk to the sales representative to learn more about your chosen mattress’ flammability.
It certainly helps to do your own research before buying a mattress. Some people have concerns about individual manufacturers and the steps they take to meet legal requirements for selling their products in Canada or the United States. Others have concerns about any potential health risks associated with flame retardants used in mattress manufacturing.
One great resource for your mattress buying decision is your chiropractor. They can make recommendations for the mattress best suited to meet your physical needs and help you get your most restful sleep. Of course, personal preference plays a major role in this buying decision. You should not base your decision on others’ recommendations, alone. You need to also test a mattress, particularly in the store by reclining on it as you would for your sleep.
Are Mattresses Flammable?
In essence, the question of whether mattresses are flammable is answered according to where you are buying your product. If you are shopping in the United States or Canada, you can rest assured that your mattress meets some of the most stringent safety requirements in the world. While none of these products are 100 percent fireproof, manufacturers and lawmakers certainly focus on making them as inflammable as possible.
Ways to prevent a mattress fire include keeping all bedding away from open flames and appliances, such as heating units, fireplaces, irons and stoves. Keep matches and candles away from mattresses. Teach your children not to light matches or play with open flames around bedding. Never smoke cigarettes or other smoking devices in bed. Install smoke alarms in your home and test them regularly. Through these measures and buying your mattress from a trusted resource and quality manufacturer, you can rest easier knowing your mattress is safe.