Fire Escape Ladders
Fire Escape Ladders

Many people, sometimes including entire families, die every year in home fires. Fires sprout from various causes, but one commonality among home fires is that they spread quickly. They may double in size as fast every thirty seconds. Family members on upper floors often do not have time to escape before fires engulf homes. Some people have used fire-escape ladders to successfully facilitate quick escapes.

Concept

Since people in a household may have difficulty getting to the ground floor of a house in case of a fire, safety experts have recognized the need to engineer a product that would allow quick and safe passage to the ground from windows on upper floors. A conventional ladder would not be practical in these cases because their bulky size is unsuitable for storage and would not be easy to move quickly. Fire-escape ladders offer designs that address these issues.

Types of Ladders

Generally, consumers may choose from two type of escape ladders, portable and affixed. An affixed ladder is permanently attached to a window. They are activated by using some sort of release, such as a lever, which releases the ladder. The ladder then automatically drops to the ground. The affixed design offers the advantages of greater sturdiness and more expediency as household occupants do not need to retrieve and extend a ladder. However, affixed ladders are much more expensive than the portable variety. This article focuses on the portable variety.

Construction

Many experts agree that among the most important features of fire-escape ladders is the number of "standoffs." A standoff protrudes from the ladder to the house, creating separation between the two and stabilizes the ladder. Without protrusions ladders would become pinned against walls and not allow escapees sufficient footholds, thus making climbing difficult. In emergency situations, quick escapes are essential and awkward climbing endangers hurried, panicked escapees. Standoffs allow quick and deft egress from burning buildings. Other important features include height, weight, weight tolerance, ease of storage, and the ability to quickly secure grips located at the top of the ladder to a window sill or roof.

New designs for ladders address all of these issues. Many fire-escape ladders reach up to three stories and some up to six stories, a sufficient height for most homes. They are manufactured from lightweight metals and plastics, permitting quick retrieval and extension of the ladder. Many of these ladders support up to 1,000 pounds of weight at a time, so that several members of a household can climb down simultaneously. The ladders' also feature a collapsible design allowing them to be stored inconspicuously. Consumers should take care to ensure that the ladders they purchase adhere to these standards. When deciding on a particular ladder, consumers should also take care that the grips on the tops of the ladders properly fit the window sills or roof eaves where they would be hung.

Availability

Since fire-escape ladders have become a standard safety feature for many homes, they have become available at a wide variety of sources. Consumers may purchase them at hardware stores or big-box stores and others that sell safety equipment. Some purchase ladders from internet websites.

Planning

Experts also agree that a household should devise a plan for escape during emergencies like fires. All members of the household should participate in the planning. Ladders constitute an essential part of escape plans for multistory homes. Some considerations include planning for special members such as elderly, small children, and babies, noting locations of the fastest exits, and storing ladders near window exits. It is also imperative to ensure that if placed next to a window that the window can be opened. A household should conduct fire-escape drills together in order to be ready for an actual emergency. You should also take care that paths to exits are not blocked at any time and agree on a meeting place outside.

Conclusion

Fire-escape ladders constitute an important safety feature for households in multistory homes. Consumers should take care that their ladders meet minimum standards and fit window sills or roof eaves. It is also important devise plans for escape in case of emergencies and to practice those plans.