Can’t get in… But Can I get out? Emergency Escape

Home Inspector with NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Can’t get in… But Can I get out? Emergency Escape- Chelan and Leavenworth Home Inspection Services

I have talked about emergency egress and ingress before on bedroom windows.

But sometimes you have to reiterate a point. On a recent Wenatchee Home Inspection I observed a curious security feature.

The owner must have had some worry about security. As a purposeful and resourceful soul he decided to repurpose some common household items, the bed headboard and footboard.

                                         Security Bars over bedroom window

Now I love ingenuity and creativeness but sometimes the thought is just not quite complete or well thought out.

In this example we can see that the homeowner placed these bars over the widows.

                                       Security Bars over Bedroom Window

Now two things-
First they are fastened from the exterior so if you really wanted in it would not be that hard to remove them.

Second and most important this is a life safety issue. This is how the code (IRC) describes this
R310.1.4 Operational constraints.
Emergency escape and rescue openings shall be operational from the inside of the room without the use of keys, tools or special knowledge.

As you can see these windows bars clearly cannot be operated from the inside or opened without a tool.

“One of the true tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency.”

Arnold H Glasgow

NCW Home Inspections, LLC  is a Licensed Washington State Home Inspection service located in Wenatchee Washington serving Chelan County, Douglas County, Kittitas County, Okanogan County and Grant County Washington and the cities of Wenatchee, Leavenworth, Cashmere, Orville, Cle Elum, East Wenatchee, Quincy and many more…  

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Brad Gotham
Granite Peak Inspection, Inc. - Colville, WA

Nice, keeps the lazy ones out.

Aug 07, 2012 12:49 AM #1
Fred Hernden, CMI
Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area - Albuquerque, NM
Albuquerque area Master Inspector

Hey, a burglar bar is a burglar, very inventive! I have seen this also. Sometimes when people add a room to their house they don't realize that they need to have an emergency exit. It could be their children that are trapped inside.

Aug 07, 2012 12:51 AM #2
Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Brad, I fear lazy intruders ; )


Fred, You are correct. In older homes also many times they do not know they need an emergency escape for a finished basement also.

Aug 07, 2012 12:55 AM #3
Robert Butler
Aspect Inspection - Montreal West Island, QC
Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection

Just mount the bars (head and footer panels) on the interior, but hinge them on one side and put a simple turn latch on the other (well out of reach of an arm through the window.).

Better still, hinge them below the window so they can be flipped down and used as a ramp or ladder to get up to the sill.

Ingenuity and creativeness are great, but you have to think of everything.

Aug 07, 2012 03:53 AM #4
Clint Mckie
Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections - Carlsbad, NM
Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586

Hi Donald,

I guess they never thought about the "means of egress". You can get in but you can't get out the window.

Gotta love this mess.

Have a great day my friend.

Best, Clint McKie

Aug 07, 2012 04:26 AM #5
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

It's like putting keyed locks on the inside of the door. You're trapped like a rat. 

Aug 10, 2012 10:56 PM #6
Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Robert, Love your correction ; )

Clint, Many just never think about that sort of stuff.


Jim, Had one just a week ago on a back door.


Aug 14, 2012 07:04 AM #7
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Donald Hester

NCW Home Inspections, LLC
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