Window egress rules are very important because they allow a person safe exit of a home during a fire. The intention is to provide a window that is wide and tall enough for a person to climb through. It also must be at the correct height from the floor to make that exit possible for the young or elderly. Egress windows should be provided in all bedrooms. Of particular importance are basement windows because a fire at the top of the stairs easily traps people.
Florida Egress Windows
The egress window rules for Florida are located in the building code under chapter 10, section 1005.4. They state that an egress window shall have a sill (bottom of window) height that does not exceed 44 inches off the floor. The window must open to provide an unobstructed space of 5.7 square feet. There is an exception for grade level (first floor) windows. They may have a minimum clear opening of 5 square feet. The width of the opening must be at least 20 inches, and the height of the opening at least 24 inches.
It is good practice to provide egress for every bedroom in the house. If a person is sleeping, a fire may spread through the entire home before he awakes. His only option at this point is exiting the home through a window. This also provides firefighters access to every bedroom from the exterior of the home. It is good practice to have a door on every bedroom. Doors slow the spread of fire and smoke, giving occupants more time to escape.
A smoke detector should be installed outside of every bedroom in a house. This assures the people sleeping in the rooms hear the alarm and have time to exit. A smoke detector needs to be installed on the ceiling, away from walls and corners. Smoke has a tendency to roll away from where walls and ceiling meet, as well as corners. This reduces the effectiveness of the smoke detector. If the smoke detectors are battery powered, the batteries should be changed every year.
Plan Your Escape
Every family needs to have a fire escape plan so that the occupants know the best options in an emergency situation. Practice this plan at least once a year to refresh everyone's memory. If your home has a second or third floor, it is wise to keep an emergency chain ladder stored in an accessible location. This assists in getting to the ground from the windows. Without one, the occupant may be forced to jump, possibly injuring herself in the fall.
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