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Egress Pros Code

For all dwellings classified as single or dual-family homes, the International Residential Code (IRC) of 2021 is applicable.

This regulation is designed to ensure the safety of occupants by mandating escape routes in basement living areas, primarily to facilitate evacuation during emergencies and to allow firefighter access. Products listed on this site are explicitly labeled to indicate their adherence to the basement escape window standards.

Since the code is revised triennially, it’s crucial to confirm with your municipal building authority which iteration of the code is currently in effect in your jurisdiction. Basement Escape Window Essentials as per Section R310 of the Code:

Living spaces, especially bedrooms, must be equipped with escape windows or doors. This requirement extends to renovations where bedrooms are added or basements are converted into habitable spaces, necessitating the installation of escape windows. The absence of an escape route in such rooms poses a significant risk, transforming them into potential fire hazards without a readily accessible and operable emergency exit. Essential rooms like bedrooms, lounges, dens, family rooms, entertainment rooms, offices, and gyms in basements must all include escape routes. Specifications for Escape Windows in Basements

  • The escape window’s sill should be positioned no higher than 44 inches from the ground level.
  • A minimum open space of 5.7 square feet is required for the escape window.
  • The escape window’s opening must be at least 24 inches tall and 20 inches wide.
  • To ensure adequate sunlight, the glass area of the escape window should cover at least 8% of the room’s floor space.
  • For effective ventilation, the window’s openable area must constitute at least 4% of the room’s total floor area.
  • If a single window does not meet the required light and ventilation percentages, multiple windows can be combined to achieve the necessary totals, provided the cumulative light and ventilation percentages meet or exceed the required 8% and 4%, respectively. Basement Escape Window Well Requirements

Escape window wells are mandatory when the window’s base is below ground level, ensuring the window can open fully without obstructions. A minimum distance of 36 inches is required from the window to the well’s opposite side. The window well must have a minimum dimension of 9 square feet (width x projection). Escape Ladders and Steps for Window Wells

For window wells exceeding 44 inches in depth, fixed ladders or steps are mandatory. Ladders or steps may project up to 6 inches into the well space. The spacing between steps or ladder rungs must not exceed 18 inches, with rungs being at least 12 inches wide and protruding between 3 to 6 inches from the well’s back wall. Escape Window Well Covers and Grates

These should be designed to be effortlessly opened or removed from the inside without needing special tools. These specifications ensure that an average person can easily use the escape route. Consider the basement occupants’ needs when choosing window and well sizes, as legal minimums may not suffice for all situations. Safety should be the primary consideration in your selections.