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Egress windows; the get-out-get-in necessity

Recently, a client asked one of our inspectors a question that’s we've heard a few times: “Why are you measuring this window?”

During a final inspection, it’s typical for our inspectors to enter every bedroom, and check the sizes of the windows, as well as verify that smoke alarms have been installed. It’s pretty obvious why a building inspector would check the smoke alarm, but the window? Not so much.

Section of the National Building Code mandates that every bedroom requires either an exterior door (that is, a door that leads into the great blue yonder) or a window of sufficient size that someone can get out of the window in an emergency.

The window needs to have at least 0.35m² in area (that’s 3.77 square feet), with no space when opened that is less than 38 cm (15 inches) wide.

One of our building inspectors checks the width of a bedroom window to see if it is egress compliant.

In building terms, this is called an “egress window.” If you’re doing some home renovations, always be sure to specify an egress window for every bedroom, to make sure the window meets Code requirements.

If there’s a patio door from the bedroom, there is no need for an egress window, but a door that goes to some other part of the house is not sufficient. Egress window regulations also apply to all residential suites (i.e. apartments.)

“OK,” said the client, after hearing a point-form version of the explanation. “But there’s no way I’m jumping out of that window – it’s, like, 30 feet up.” The quick answer to that is that the height of the window is not a consideration: firefighters have ladders. Egress windows are there to give firefighters an easier time of hauling you out of your bedroom if you and your home are having a bad day.

Egress windows are a key part of the life-safety functions of the code, and our inspectors will check to make sure egress windows are part of plans for every home and suite of residential occupancy.

Our planning and inspection department serves St. George, Saint Andrews, Harvey, McAdam and all unincorporated areas between Lepreau and the Hanwell Road north of Harvey. Questions? Give us a call at 466-7369.