Home Escape Ladders Home Escape Ladders

Virtually everyone has at least one smoke detector in their home, but do you know what to do if the unthinkable happens and that smoke detector goes off? Is there a way for your family to get out the burning building? Just think about it, there are about a half million residential fires reported in the US every year and fire can spread so quickly escape from a home can be blocked in 60 seconds. That's why the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) recommends there be escape ladders in every occupied room above the ground floor of all homes.

There are essential two types of home escape ladders

Fixed escape ladders

  • are installed permanently against an outside wall. Usually they can be pulled up or pushed out of the way to make them less noticeable.

Portable escape ladders

  • since they are relatively inexpensive and not a permanent fixture, homeowners usually choose portable escape ladders.
  • portable escape ladders commonly come in a box or a bag that can be stored under a bed or simply left on the floor below the window.

Choosing a portable escape ladder

  • Since it will be needed at a stressful time, ease of use is important in the escape ladder you choose so you want to ensure the ladder's design makes it easy to deploy.
  • Commonly, you deploy the ladder by slipping the top hooks over the window sill then drop the rungs down the outside. The hooks must be wide enough to easily fit over the window sill and the ladder rungs easy to let down. A strap with a Velcro closure that can be quickly undone to release the rungs is a popular design.
  • Obviously the ladder needs to be long enough to reach the ground from the upper storeys of your home. What this means is you need a ladder that is at least 13' long for a second floor window and 25' for a 3rd floor window.
  • As well, the ladder needs to be strong enough to hold the weight of more than one person at a time (on different rungs). In reality this means you should look for a ladder that at a minimum is able to support 800 pounds but 900 or even 1000 pound ladders are available and will provide extra safety.
  • In addition, the ladder rungs should be slip proof ensuring you'll have solid footing when descending.
  • Standoffs will help keep the ladder rungs away from the walls of your house and make the ladder more stable and easier to use.

Using your escape ladder

  • Store your ladder in a bedroom so you can use a bedroom window as an escape route. If you only have one ladder, choosing a child's bedroom is often a good choice since in an emergency they will often need help.Don't use a window in a hallway since smoke will travel up the stairs.
  • If you store your escape ladder in a closet or under a bed, make sure everybody knows where it is, and it's a good ides to have a family practice session to be sure everyone understands how to install and deploy the escape ladder.
Murray Anderson is an experienced freelance writer with over 600 articles published on the web as well as in print magazines and newspapers in both the United States and Canada. He writes on a wide range of topics and is a regular contributor to DoItYourself.com. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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