There are many things to think about before you safely use a window as an escape route. See
"What types of windows can I use as an escape route?" below to learn more about what windows work best.
Easy to open
Escape windows should be easy to open all the way. It’s best if you don’t need to break the window to get out, because you can cut yourself on broken glass.
Screens, security bars, and grilles should be easy to remove or open with no extra tools or steps.
Windows that take many steps to open or have hidden hardware aren’t good for escape routes. They can take too long to open in an emergency. They can also be hard to open if you don’t have much strength in your hands.
If the window you plan to use sticks or won’t open:
Make sure the window opening is big enough for a person to pass through. Check that the window handle isn’t so big that it gets in the way of the opening.
Make sure there’s enough room for a person to fit on the outside of the window. For example, if a basement window opens into a window well, make sure there’s room for you to get into and climb out of the window well.
Some quick-release hardware could stop the window from staying open and make it harder to get out.Window height
Area outside the window
Make sure the window isn’t too high to use as an exit. The window sill shouldn’t be higher than 1.5 meters above the floor. Make it easier to reach the window by installing built-in furniture under the window.
If you need to cut foundation concrete to install a larger window, you may need a building permit, an engineer’s design, or both. Contact your municipal planning and development department to find out.
If your child might use the window on their own, teach them how to open the window and remove any screens or bars. Watch them do it. Have them open the window every time you practise your fire escape plan.
If your child can't escape on their own through a window, think about using more smoke alarms in the bedrooms. You could also move your child's bedroom to the first floor so it's easier to get them out.
Full vent in-swing awning windows
All images on this page provided by Environmental Public Health, Alberta Health Services.
Current as of: September 28, 2021
Author: Environmental Public Health, Alberta Health Services
This material is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified health professional. This material is intended for general information only and is provided on an "as is", "where is" basis. Although reasonable efforts were made to confirm the accuracy of the information, Alberta Health Services does not make any representation or warranty, express, implied or statutory, as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, applicability or fitness for a particular purpose of such information. Alberta Health Services expressly disclaims all liability for the use of these materials, and for any claims, actions, demands or suits arising from such use.