Home Inspector with Acuity Home Inspections IL LIC. 450.03340

Being trapped can spell your doom.

As children, we would play with trapping people and being trapped. I remember being carried in a picnic blanket by my uncle Dave, a makeshift sack with me inside, swinging in an arc as he strode across a field one Summer long ago.

We often think of a house as something to keep things out. A house protects us from the rain and the cold, from wild animals, and from other people-- by keeping them out.

Elementary, dear Watson. That's why we live indoors.

But there are times when you really don't want to be inside your house.

When it's on fire, for example.

History's full of of burning buildings with people trapped inside. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. Our Lady of the Angels. 9/11.

National building standards are written with fire hazards in mind. Standards exist to ensure that occupants will be able to exit the building quickly and safely. To prevent entrapment, all egress doors require key-less operation from the interior.

Entrapment Hazard

I'll often find houses where all the doors to the exterior require keys from the inside. This can be deadly.

It's one thing to use a key during the day. It's an entirely different matter when it's dark, the power's been cut, and the hallway's filled with smoke.

Or if you happen to be a child, or a guest, or disoriented.

Or if the keys have been misplaced.

Be sure that all your exit doors can be opened from the inside without the use of keys, tools, or specialized knowledge. 

Change your locks if necessary. It's a small price to avoid entrapment.




Re-Blogged 1 time:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Roy Kelley 11/10/2013 10:16 PM
ActiveRain Community
Illinois Cook County Chicago Lincoln Park/ Depaul/ Old Town
fire safety

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Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

When I used to manage properties in the ghetto, many homes had steel bars on the windows and doors. The message was clear...You are not getting in here. However, getting out wasn't so clear or easy. It took a few fires and deaths to install emergency release latches as mandatory. In the old days, they used to have what they called FIRE AXES mounted next to doors and windows...As a last a resort, you chopped your way out...Good post and thank you

Nov 07, 2013 11:51 PM #25
Vanessa Saunders
Global Property Systems Real Estate - White Plains, NY
From Manhattan to the Catskills of New York

Such a simple thing to do for your family's safety!

Nov 07, 2013 11:54 PM #26
Than Maynard
Coldwell Banker Heart of Oklahoma - Purcell, OK
Broker - Licensed to List & Sell - 405-990-8862

Never much cared for the double locks. Most houses I see with double locks have a key left in them.

Nov 08, 2013 12:18 AM #27
Atlanta's Home Inspector, David Lelak IHI Home Inspections
IHI Home Inspections 404-788-2581 - Canton, GA
Experience the IHI Difference

Great post, Tom. Key less interior entry seems logical, but that is why inspectors are needed. To point out these issues that could be matters of life and death.

Nov 08, 2013 12:50 AM #29
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

This is very good advice for home owners. Safety should be a first consideration for every family.

Nov 08, 2013 12:54 AM #30
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

Those are important points and advice, Tom!  Certainly, homeowners should consider their avenues of escape, and remedy any roadblocks to a speedy exit when required.

Nov 08, 2013 01:40 AM #31
Jay & Michelle Lieberman
Keller Williams World Class - Agoura Hills, CA
Creating Calm in the Buying and Selling Chaos

Solid warning.  Now I need to go through my own house and check all the exterior doors.  Too nervous to sleep tonight without doing that.

Nov 08, 2013 06:07 AM #32
Jim Patton
Aspire Home Real Estate 209-404-0816 - Modesto, CA
Realtor - Stanislaus ,Merced, San Joaquin Counties

Good information Tom.  I understand why people would install those kind of locks (like #14 stated) but there are other options you can choose that would be safer.  Thanks for sharing.

Nov 08, 2013 07:28 AM #33
Evelyn Johnston
Friends & Neighbors Real Estate - Elkhart, IN
The People You Know, Like and Trust!

Wow! My Sister is one of those who has to use a key coming or going.  The door automatically locks going out.  I think I will call her...

Nov 08, 2013 08:57 AM #34
Kelly Young
The Platinum Group Realtors - Colorado Springs, CO
Colorado Springs Real Estate ~ 719-226-0126

Tom, this is the same reason I am not a fan of burgalar bars (doors) on houses.  We don't have many here in Colorado but when I have seen them it gives me a wierd feeling for exactly what you speak to.  Getitng out when it is not easy, quick or light.

Nov 08, 2013 11:12 AM #35
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

Tom, extra keys do help for sure - having a set of keys with a friend in neighbor (on reciprocal basis) is perfect.

Nov 08, 2013 01:37 PM #36
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M
Tom - I've never liked the idea of locks inside that can only be opened with a key.
Nov 08, 2013 03:05 PM #37
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Triangle is doin a good thing!


Love and light,


Nov 08, 2013 03:56 PM #38
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667, kat@thehousekat.com, Broker, Blackstone Realty Group - brokered by eXp Realty - Kalispell, MT
The House Kat

Yes, definitely, replacing any egress lock that requires an inside key is a must.  It would be so easy to misplace the key.


Nov 09, 2013 12:19 AM #39
Jimmy Faulkner
Florida. Homes Realty & Mortgage - Wantagh, NY
The Best Of St. Augustine
A very exciting post that has a very powerful message that is important to all of us. Great for safety for the whole family. Keeping an extra set of keys and having it in a safe place is important.
Nov 09, 2013 02:03 AM #40
Tom Jansson
Acuity Home Inspections - Chicago, IL
Chicago Area Home Inspector - InterNACHI Certified

No.  The answer is NOT an extra set of keys.

The correct answer is to CHANGE THE LOCKSET to a model that can be opened from the inside WITHOUT KEYS.


Nov 09, 2013 02:18 AM #41
Robert Butler
Aspect Inspection - Montreal West Island, QC
Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection

"being carried in .................................., a makeshift sack with me inside" 

Does that mean you were "in the bag"? :)


Insurers often ask for double dead bolts so entry cannot simply be gained by breaking glass and operating a thumb turn latch. So you have to cache a key nearby but out of sight from the exterior.

While more effective against break-ins it's not as safe for emergency exit scenarios like fires.

For this reason good architectural design places side light and door glazing details far from door hardware locations.

Nov 09, 2013 03:32 AM #42
Tom Jansson
Acuity Home Inspections - Chicago, IL
Chicago Area Home Inspector - InterNACHI Certified

Double deadbolts are against national standards.

They are not an acceptable solution for egress under any circumstance.

I understand the crime concerns. How about a solid door? 

If a burglar is willing to break a window, they can easily gain access elsewhere by breaking any window in the house.  

The double-deadbolt provides a false sense of security, and a very real fire hazard.

After the Our Lady of the Angels School fire, Percy Bugbee, the president of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) said in an interview, "There are no new lessons to be learned from this fire; only old lessons that tragically went unheeded."[13] 

Nov 09, 2013 08:08 AM #43
Tom Jansson
Acuity Home Inspections - Chicago, IL
Chicago Area Home Inspector - InterNACHI Certified

Other security fixes are described in comments 7 and 19.

Nov 09, 2013 08:12 AM #44
Larry Bettag
Cherry Creek Mortgage Illinois Residential Mortgage License LMB #0005759 Cherry Creek Mortgage NMLS #: 3001 - Saint Charles, IL
Vice-President of National Production

Safety is always critical.  Good points and kudos on the star....this can't be overemphasized.......powerful message and people get too reckless with safety...or complacent.

Nov 11, 2013 01:00 AM #45
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