Egress window are windows you can use to leave your home. They can be easily opened from the inside without any keys, tools, or physical difficulties. While they may seem like a regulatory burden, these windows furnish occupants with natural light, provide a source of natural ventilation, and can become a lifesaver in an emergency. If there is a fire in your home, for example, a single stairwell may become unusable, leaving family members and tenants without a clear path to safety. In basements, egress windows are essential.
An egress window should be large enough to escape through in case of emergency. Building codes in many areas require them to be large enough to allow entry for a fully-equipped firefighter.
- For determining egress window sizes and placement, the International Building Code advises that every bedroom must contain at least one. It must be at least 5.7 square feet, 20 inches wide by 24 inches high, with an opening no higher than 44 inches from the floor.
- In addition, the egress window requirements for basements specify that they be at least 36 inches in height and width, with a fully functioning opening. If a window is more than 44 inches from the ground, a ladder or steps at least 12 inches wide must be present.
- Basement egress windows must also include window wells that provide enough clearance to allow escape.