While the Coronavirus pandemic has drastically changed many things, there are still a few constants: your college-aged kids will need a room in the basement. Sure, it used to be temporary. They only needed the space when they came home during the holidays (because you’ve turned their old room into an exercise room/study/storage closet/art studio/puzzle room/dog bedroom, etc), but now it seems they’re here to stay (come on, coronavirus vaccine!).
With them sitting downstairs all day on Zoom lectures, studying into the wee hours of the morning, burning the candle at both ends, they’re making themselves at home in that basement of yours. With each late night study session, they’ll need snacks, a good place to sit, maybe some literal candles to burn (for the overworked college kid stench) and coffee. Lots of coffee.
They’re tired, and accidents happen. If some school papers make their way onto the hot coffee maker or a candle tips while they’re asleep at their desk and a fire starts, you’ll want to know they can get out of that basement safely and quickly. The safest and most reliable way to do this is to install an egress window in that basement bedroom.
Basements used to be storage spaces; they stored your seasonal clothes, grandparents’ furniture, and thousands of spiders – ones that knew how to escape in a fire. Then, the American family grew, and basements got homier. Not only could they be hangout spaces for your kid’s friends in the summer, but they could be temporary sleeping spaces for college kids, guest bedrooms for relatives, and even AirBnBs! Basements with living spaces are now required to have egress windows.
Escaping Basement Fires
Of course all fires are dangerous. However, basement fires make an especially difficult situation for firefighters. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, “a fire below- grade will create a chimney effect when the door to the stairway is opened, resulting in a rapidly expanding rush of fire from below. Firefighters attempting to descend the stairway will be caught in the fire’s flow path and confronted with rising heat, fire, and smoke.” Without a second source of ventilation, tragically, people trapped in basement fires have an even more challenging time getting out or being rescued.
To be effective, egress windows need to fulfill a few standard safety measures. A few are size requirements. The minimum opening area of the egress window needs to be 5.7 square feet, the minimum window opening height is 24 inches high, and the minimum window opening is 20 inches wide. This ensures humans and animals may exit. There are lots of other requirements that your building professionals can help to make sure you follow. Your safety is as important to them as it is to you.
Give WMGB a call to schedule an estimate for your egress window today!