The Review and Herald



January 2, 1872

Beware of the Spare Bed


In our itinerant life we have suffered much by sleeping in beds that were not daily used. Beds that are not daily exposed to the air and sunlight, will gather dampness. And there are but very few who understand the necessity of having the sun and air come freely into their sleeping rooms, that bed and bedding may be kept perfectly dry and free from impurities. RH January 2, 1872, par. 1

Beds that have been left unused for days, and even weeks, in the damp season of the year are dangerous to the health and life of those who sleep in them. When visitors are expected, the parlor stove may be for the first time set up, and a fire kindled in it, and the parlor bedroom opened. And this is considered sufficient preparation to make the friends comfortable. But the bed and bedding, if not carefully separated and aired, are not safe for any one to use. RH January 2, 1872, par. 2

I have had a very afflicting experience in sleeping in damp beds. I slept with my infant two months old in a north bedroom. The bed had not been used for two weeks. A fire was kindled in the room, and this was considered all that was necessary. Next morning, I felt that I had taken cold. My babe seemed to be in great pain when moved. His face began to swell, and he was afflicted with erysipelas of the most aggravating form. My dear babe was a great sufferer for four weeks, and finally died, a martyr to the damp bed. RH January 2, 1872, par. 3

A few weeks later, I accompanied my husband to fill appointments in several places. In four of these places we had the misfortune to be assigned the spare bed in rooms opening from the parlor. The stove was set up in the parlor adjoining these bedrooms the very day we were expected. Dampness had entered every part of these unheated, unventilated rooms. The windows had not been raised, and were carefully covered with paper curtains, and outside of these drapery, and the blinds were carefully closed. The air had not been permitted to circulate freely through the house, and the precious sunlight was excluded as though it was an enemy. Why was there need of windows at all when they were not used? It would have saved expense to have made these houses without windows. Our good-hearted friends received us cordially, and we should have enjoyed our visit, had it not been for the dreaded spare bed. RH January 2, 1872, par. 4

At the first two places we visited, we took severe colds by sleeping in their damp, unused beds, and we suffered greatly with rheumatism; but tried to fill our appointments. In the third damp bed, we lay nearly one hour trying to get warm; but the clothing was literally wet. We were under the unpleasant necessity of calling our friends; for we felt that it would be positively fatal to life and health to remain in that damp bed. Our friends cheerfully renewed their fires, and the bedding was removed from the bed and thoroughly dried. RH January 2, 1872, par. 5

We returned home from that journey, and exposure, to suffer for months. I feared that I should be a cripple for life. My husband was afflicted with pain in the chest and lungs, and he had a severe cough for months. After three months of almost helpless suffering, and careful treatment, by the mercy of God, I was able to walk. RH January 2, 1872, par. 6

We have been exposed on our late journey to “death in the spare bed.” We have taken colds, which have settled upon the lungs, causing soreness of the flesh. Since our fears have been aroused, we have been careful, and have been under the necessity of close questioning in regard to our beds. In some cases, we have removed the bed clothing, and have dried it by the fire; before we ventured to sleep. This may have given the impression that we were very particular, and perhaps notional. We own that we are particular. We value life which God has preserved, by a miracle of his mercy, from the death in the spare, damp, and moldy beds. RH January 2, 1872, par. 7

In the case of all these beds, where the air has not circulated through the rooms daily, the bedding should be removed and thoroughly dried by the fire, before being slept in. Sleeping rooms should have the windows raised every day, and the air should circulate freely through the rooms. The curtains should be withdrawn from the windows. The blinds should be fastened back. And the blessed sunlight should thus be invited in, to brighten and purify every bedroom in the house. RH January 2, 1872, par. 8

The Northwestern Christian Advocate speaks touchingly upon this subject under the caption of RH January 2, 1872, par. 9

“Death in the spare bed. RH January 2, 1872, par. 10

“On one occasion, having need to see a minister early the morning after conference adjourned, I went to his boarding place, one of the choicest in the city. He and his room-mate were making their toilet, and revealed their presence by hoarse and almost incessant coughing. Their entertainment had been most hospitable; but they had been assigned to the ‘spare room,’ in that case an elegant apartment, reserved for favored guests. The spacious and yielding bed had an inviting look, but a damp and moldy smell. Indeed, the whole apartment revealed an alarming unfamiliarity with sunshine. But it was the ‘best room,’ and any intimation from them that both room and bed were damp had seemed rude and ungrateful. So they occupied the room and bed, and contracted colds, from the effects of which one has since died, and the other still suffers. RH January 2, 1872, par. 11

“said a pale and haggard sufferer not long since, ‘I think I should be able to visit my appointments at least a few times more, if friends would not persist in putting me away in their chilly spare rooms and damp beds.’ When such cases have run their course, doctors may say, ‘died of hepatized lungs;’ but more will understand them if they say, ‘died of sleeping in spare beds.’ RH January 2, 1872, par. 12

“the motives of good people cannot be questioned; but unwittingly they literally ‘kill with kindness.’ In the name of the brotherhood, I protest if we are to occupy the ‘spare room,’ and sleep in the ‘spare bed,’ they should be dry and well aired. We certainly do not elect to be Suicides From Courtesy, and you would not give us Death for a bed-fellow!” RH January 2, 1872, par. 13

E. G. W.