Alternative to Egg Crate Foam Pads

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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: Alternative to Egg Crate Foam Pads
By Busymom (Busymom) on Friday, August 06, 2004 - 03:13 pm: Edit

We thought we were all set with by D's dorm supplies. Among our purchases was a foam eggcrate mattress pad. D just received a letter today from BC with her room assignment, etc. and along with it a note that said that BC has a new policy in which they do not allow the foam pads as they are extremely flammable.

Does anyone have any alternatives that they recommend?

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Friday, August 06, 2004 - 03:16 pm: Edit

matress pads. not sure why they are any LESS flammable, btw, but whatever. they are certainly more expensive.

By Massdad (Massdad) on Friday, August 06, 2004 - 03:55 pm: Edit

Because foam is essentially pure plastic, it burns very hot and fast. And worse, burning plastic sends out some pretty nasty toxic gases.

For a lot of reasons, college dorms have frequent fires, due to everything from smokeing in bed to overheating lamps to plain carelessness. BC has had unfortunate experience in this area:

"The first fire occured shortly after 11:30 a.m. on Jan. 23 in Fenwick Hall. According to Boston College Police Department reports, a halogen lamp set curtains on fire in a dorm room. Two residents who had been studying in the room escaped after trying unsuccessfully to contain the fire.

Police said one of the students, her eyes stinging from fire-extinguisher chemicals, was treated at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Brighton and released.

While the room sustained heavy damage from smoke and water, quick action by campus police officers in closing a fire door contained the spread of smoke and prevented widespread damage, according to BCPD Chief Robert Morse.

Students were evacuated from Fenwick Hall while the fire was extinguished by Newton firefighters.

Two days later, a cooking fire in an Ignacio Hall room filled the third floor with smoke and led to the evacuation of the building shortly before 10:30 p.m. A student had been cooking when a pan of oil on a stove caught fire and ignited a hood fan, police said. No injuries were reported. "

Traditional mattress pads are made out of cotton, which tends to smolder rather than burn, well, like a piece of burning plastic (foam), so it is much safer.

By Aparent4 (Aparent4) on Friday, August 06, 2004 - 04:30 pm: Edit

This is very interesting. My kids' school is so strict about fire prevention that it prohibits all but a very few specific models of small appliances and also bans microwaves and halogen lamps. Yet I find no mention of foam padding on the Housing website. Weird. I am thinking from the sound of this that I may be returning to Bed, Bath and Beyond for a refund, anyway.

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Friday, August 06, 2004 - 05:12 pm: Edit

Thanks, Massdad. I never would have guessed. Cynic that I am, I was beginning to wonder whether BC had some interest in the mattress pad industry! Perhaps I'll rethink that egg crate...

By Thumper1 (Thumper1) on Friday, August 06, 2004 - 05:16 pm: Edit

We're thinking about getting a fiberfill mattress topper this year instead of the foam thing. The mattress topper is kind of like the pillow top on the pillow top mattresses (or you could compare it to a synthetic featherbed). It's about $50 at Bed Bath and Beyond, but with the 20% off coupon it will be 40. Also, it will last more than one year. Those foam things only are good for one season.

By Debelli (Debelli) on Friday, August 06, 2004 - 07:27 pm: Edit

We have Tuesday Morning here and they have the mattress pads that aren't egg crate style for $14.99 for twin XL - they are 1 1.5" thick - they seem pretty good, but then again, I haven't opened it up - can't imagine trying to get it back in the package before shipping it off to school!

Check Ebay for memory foam pads as well.

By Patient (Patient) on Friday, August 06, 2004 - 07:42 pm: Edit

Thanks for the heads up. On a related note, (fire), someone was at my house today and saw candles in my daughters' rooms. She said get rid of them as she knew someone whose house partially burned and had extensive smoke damage as a result of votives left burning in a girl's room. This is nothing new and not that they'll necessarily honor the request, but a good reminder to the kids as they go off to school.

By Alongfortheride (Alongfortheride) on Friday, August 06, 2004 - 08:12 pm: Edit

There are so many flammable items in a dorm room. Clothing, curtains, not to mention all of the nail polish remover, etc. I think it is wise that the colleges have banned so many of the flammable items. However, unless those in charge keep an eye out, contraband things tend to creep back in. I think we have to encourage our kids to speak up if the rules are being broken - for their own safety.

My nephew's dorm at Kent State had a fire many years ago. No one was hurt, but everything he had at school, including his bike and computer was a loss. He escaped in what he was sleepin in on a cold January night, and through the generosity of friends was able to get together some clothes until his mom could get to campus. Our house mom always got us into the habit of sleeping with a robe on the corner of our bed and shoes right there too for the middle of the night fire drills and just in case the real thing happened. Also, my son's school, puts a flashlight on its list of things to bring. My son bought one of the new Inova's with the LED. Very compact, very bright. God forbid he should need it for fire, but thunderstorms in the south are a common occurance.

By Aparent4 (Aparent4) on Friday, August 06, 2004 - 09:13 pm: Edit

Candles are banned in my kids' dorms.

By Marite (Marite) on Friday, August 06, 2004 - 09:28 pm: Edit

Aparent and Patient:

And a good thing that candles are banned. We had a really serious case of fire in our community. The hs school son of an acquaintance of mine left a candle burning in his room when he went to sleep. Some time during the night, the candle fell on his mattress which caught fire. His dad raced through several floors to rescue everyone (teenagers being heavy sleepers), incurring third degree burns over a great deal of his body. He was in hospital for two months, then in rehab for another several weeks. He'll have to go in for daily therapy for 18 months. His throat was damaged by the tube that was inserted into it, etc.... And of course, the house, which he had only just finished renovating the previous summer is uninhabitable. At least, he is alive, and that is almost a miracle. No candles, please.

By Shelly147 (Shelly147) on Friday, August 06, 2004 - 10:08 pm: Edit

Pillowtop featherbeds are SO comfortable, and they have some very reasonably prices ones on; check out


Both are under $50, and shipping on is only $2.95 for your entire order!

Thats what I did, and I'm so happy that I'm going to have the pillowtop that I love so much at home in a twin version for my dorm.

By Valpal (Valpal) on Friday, August 06, 2004 - 10:14 pm: Edit

D's college doesn't allow, "small, heat generating appliances" in dorm rooms, such as microwaves, hotplates, toaster ovens, air conditioners, etc. Candles are forbidden as well. Halogen lamps are "strongly discouraged". I wonder if D's desk lamp (which is a Tensor halogen type)is what they had in mind when they wrote that. Do you think it's as hazardous as the halogen floor lamps? I wonder if a small coffee maker also falls under the forbidden appliances ban.

The dorms all appear to have sprinkler systems, however, which is a great comfort. I wonder how many schools are without sprinklers in their dorms.

By Busymom (Busymom) on Friday, August 06, 2004 - 10:32 pm: Edit


Thanks for the insights and guidance. I went out tonite and returned the foam eggcrate and purchased a polyfill mattress topper. It costs a bit more, but does look like it will last longer, be more comfortable, and will certainly be a safer option.

By Soozievt (Soozievt) on Friday, August 06, 2004 - 10:59 pm: Edit

Valpal, I recall reading on the college websites about halogen lamps and thinking, uh oh, can't take her desk lamp. But now that we are closer to the big college move, I read it all closer and it only talks of halogen torchiere lamps, which I believe are those floor lamps with halogen torchiere bulbs. Therefore, I don't think it means the basic halogen desk lamp, which is a very common kind of desk lamp. She is taking her desk lamp, therefore. Obviously you have to read what your kid's college site says about what not to bring but my kid's school only refers to the halogen torchiere lamps. Also she is allowed to bring a microwave.


By Massdad (Massdad) on Friday, August 06, 2004 - 11:48 pm: Edit

The problem is the halogen torchiere lamps. They be came popular a few years ago when cheap asian imports became available - a lot of light for about $20. The problems are several. These lamps are 300 watt lamps, which led to electrical overloads in some older dorms. Worse, the bulb, a long narrow tube, is very hot on its surface, much hotter than a traditional bulb. The hot exterior is actually essential for proper bulb function, part of the halogen cycle.

Anyway, the hot surface can ignite anything, like a drape, that touches it. And, because the lamps are tall and top heavy, they can be knocked over pretty easily, bringing the hot lamp in contact with stuff on the floor. The original design was so bad that the CPSC forced importers to modify the design by adding a grill that prevents direct contact with the bulb, but they still pose a risk.

There is a nice, energy efficient safe alternative that uses fluorescent bulbs. It's not that much more expensive. If kid wants a bright floor lamp, look for the fluorescent kind. Home Depot used to sell them.

Final note: You may want to check the label on any mattress topper to see if it is treated to be fire retardant, or naturally so. Some states, such as CA, even have standards for this.

By Alongfortheride (Alongfortheride) on Saturday, August 07, 2004 - 01:40 am: Edit

We bought my son an Ott Lite. It's a very small and portable desk light that puts out light that looks like daylight. The bulbs are flourescent so, the desk top area stays cool. It was $20 at Frye's.

By Valpal (Valpal) on Saturday, August 07, 2004 - 02:19 am: Edit

If Ott Lites have plummetted to $20, they are now a bargain indeed. When first introduced they used to be way closer to $100!

By Alongfortheride (Alongfortheride) on Saturday, August 07, 2004 - 03:01 am: Edit

Valpal, they have indeed droppedin price. I paid $75 for the ones I gave my mother in law and my mom. They are great for tedious work as they are easy on the eye. There were three models, at $20, $30, and I believe $50 (a desktop design).

By Iflyjets (Iflyjets) on Saturday, August 07, 2004 - 03:27 am: Edit

D's school prohibits candles, halogen lamps (they provide a desk lamp), restrict all small appliances (except for irons...go figure) but they provide a mini-frig/microwave combo, and even restrict the type of extension cords students can bring. As for fire, I thought about that and was glad my D will be on the first floor (which is really about 10 feet off the ground since there is a "basement" floor that has windows).

We were considering one of those "memory foam" toppers, the kind that you see advertised that will retain the shape of a hand print for 30 seconds. All brands are fire resistant (that is, slow to burn). I sleep with one and it has made a world of difference for me (they are great). They have them available for regular twin and XL sizes. This plus a well-padded mattress pad make for a very cozy bed indeed!

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