Basements and every sleeping room should have at least one operable emergency escape and rescue opening that opens directly onto a public street, public alley, yard or court. This standard is required because many deaths and injuries happen when occupants are asleep at the time of a house fire and the normal means of escape (through doors) are blocked.

Although these may change, some of the basic standards are as follows.  The sill height of the emergency escape and rescue opening should not be more than 44 inches above the floor. Windows should have a minimum of 5.7 square feet of clear opening, and minimum dimensions of 20 inches wide by 24 inches high.  If the window has a sill height below ground level, a window well should be provided. The window well should have a horizontal area of at least 9 square feet, with a minimum horizontal projection and width of 36 inches (with the exception of a ladder encroachment into the required dimension).  A permanent ladder is required if the sill height is greater that 44 inches below grade. If an emergency escape window is located under a porch or deck, the porch or deck should allow the window to be fully opened and the escape path should be at least 3 feet high.

You can’t be prepared to act in an emergency if you don’t have a plan and everybody knows what that plan is.  Panic and fear can spread as quickly as a fire, so map out an escape route and a meeting place outdoors, and involve even the youngest family members so that everyone can work as a unit to make a safe escape.  Planning should include practice on opening windows and using egress ladders.

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