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7 things to consider when picking out a fire escape ladder

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Let’s face it. Picking out a fire escape ladder could be like watching paint dry: BORING!But it is important because choosing the wrong ladder could be deadly. And who would want that on their conscious? But rest assured. There are things to consider when choosing the best escape ladder for your family.

  • Standoffs. These are metal protrusions that keep the ladder away from the side of the house. It allows a climber to easily put their foot on each step (rungs) of the ladder. It also keeps it steady while climbing. More standoffs make the ladder more stable and easy to use.
  • Length. Portable escape ladders can be from two to six stories in length, which is ideal for most homes. To make sure you are purchasing the right length, you can measure the distance of the window to the ground. An easy way to this is to drop a string out the window until it touches the ground. Mark the string at the window sill. Pull the string inside and measure it. Usually, 13-15 feet ladders are sufficient for 2nd story windows and 23-25 feet for 3rd story windows.
  • Window sill. Most emergency ladders are designed for window/wall thicknesses from 10” to 12”. You can measure your window sill by measuring the distance from the inside of the window sill to the outside part of the house.
  • Ease of use. Can everyone in your household use it? Of course I do not mean babies and toddlers, but grandma and young children should be able to use it without delay. Because when a fire strikes, seconds matter!
  • ASTM Standard F2175. ASTM makes sure that products are safe and reliable to use. (UL is not the same as ASTM Standard. Don’t be fooled.)
  • Sturdiness. Permanent escape ladders are sturdier than portable. However the permanent ones cost almost twice as much. There are good quality portable fire escape ladders out there. The key is to find one that is compact, lightweight, stable, and easy to deploy.
  • Re-usable. Let’s face it. No one wants to be forced to use a fire escape ladder. However we should be prepared. So using it BEFORE needing to use it, gives a little peace of mind.

7 things to consider when picking out a fire escape ladder

Once you have selected the best fire escape ladder for your family, it is now time to prepare.

Every home should have an escape plan in case of a fire. Every family member needs to be involve. An escape plan should include:

  1. Drawing a basic diagram of your home, marking all windows and doors.
  2. Planning two routes of escape out of each room.
  3. A discussion about how to assist family members who cannot escape on their own. (i.e. babies, toddlers, elders, and pets)
  4. Keeping exits clear.
  5. Keeping bedroom doors closed. This gives more time for escape.
  6. Teaching toddlers not to hide from firefighters. Their uniforms can be scary in times of crisis.
  7. Discussing how to crawl under the smoke to reduce smoke inhalation.
  8. Showing everyone to touch a door with the back of their hand. And if it is hot, don’t open the door. Instead, exit using the alternate route.
  9. Having a safe meeting place outside the home and teaching children never to go back inside. Once out, stay out.
  10. Discussing your fire escape plan once a month. Repetition enhances learning.