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Basement Escape Windows: They May Save Your Life

May 18, 2012 • By Matthew Stock with Steven Hirsch.

Recently, a disastrous fire struck a home in the northern suburbs of Chicago.  Even though firefighters responded quickly, the fire, which is believed to have started in the basement, did substantial damage and it will be a long time before the family can move back in.

Fortunately, all family members and their pets escaped without injury.   Perhaps the most vulnerable was a young person with a bedroom in the basement but that lucky youngster got out through a basement escape window.

Most local and national building codes require an alternate escape path from a basement bedroom when access to the main floor is blocked, as in a fire.  Basement escape windows are a common way of meeting this need, either in new construction or through remodeling.  Unfortunately, many remodeling contractors, not to mention do-it-yourselfers, are unaware of this requirement or are unequipped to take on the task of properly installing an escape window.

It goes without saying that the safety aspects of a basement escape window should be the main reasons to install one, but there are other benefits as well.  These windows, which are typically about ten square feet in area, let an abundance of daylight into basement living spaces and can allow much-appreciated fresh air ventilation into the space as well.

How is a Basement Escape Window Installed?

A basement escape window can be installed in place of an existing basement window or in another desired spot in a foundation wall.  An escape window for residential installations should offer a window with a quick-release latch, a durable, roomy window well and a cover that latches from the inside.

Installation of an escape window begins with a hole dug outside the foundation, usually by hand.  Then an opening is cut into the foundation wall from outside to accommodate a window frame. 

After the window is framed, the steel window well is permanently fastened to the exterior of the foundation wall and a latched cover is installed.  A drain is then placed at the base of the well to prevent water infiltration through the window.

Once the window sash itself is installed in the frame, the basement escape window system is complete.

A basement escape window is so important to a healthy, functional basement that U.S.Waterproofing has developed the EscapeWell™, a turnkey basement escape window system.  The EscapeWell features a custom fitted window with a quick-release latch, corrugated steel window well with an integrated escape ladder and a welded steel grate well cover that latches from the inside.  Additionally, U.S. Waterproofing applies its waterproofing expertise to the installation because a badly installed basement escape window can create water seepage problems.

We’re basement experts at U.S. Waterproofing and whether we’re helping you keep your basement dry or making it safe, well-lit and secure, our experience with more than 300,000 satisfied customers means that we’re able to recommend exactly what you need and install it properly and economically.  We’re happy to offer free advice on any basement topic, so if you think a basement escape window would make your basement a safer place, please contact us.

Tags: basement escape windows, basement egress windows

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