Egress Windows : Everything You Need to Know

Egress Windows : Everything You Need to Know

Date : 12 Juillet 2019

More than half of Canadian homes have a bedroom in the basement and for good reason, we like its convenience. Although the location of a window in a room has been mandatory for some time, the emergency exit measures have also been tightened with the Egress standard of the National Building Code.

If you build or renovate, it will apply.

Requirements to be observed
The Egress standard applies to any room used as a bedroom in a house, including the basement, to provide an emergency exit that is easily accessible in case of a fire or other life-threatening situation. It imposes a minimum opening size for this purpose and other regulations. 
Here they are :

  • No dimension less than of 15" (width and height) and must have a total opening area of 3.77 square feet (0.35 m2) minimum. This indicates that a window of 15" by 15" does not meet the standard (it does not meet the area requirements with its 1,56 sq. ft.).
  • Must open from the inside without tools and without special knowledge in case of emergency.
  • The window cannot be higher than 1.5 m above the floor. If it is (like in a basement), a step must be placed at all times to provide easy access if needed.
  • In the case of a skylight or a window wells, a distance of 30" must be observed with the front of the window for a sufficient passage. The use of a shutter must not decrease this release.
  • Exception: The standard does not apply if a sprinkler system or a door to the outside are in the room and are functional.

Calculate the area of your window easily
Here is a simple calculation to determine if your window area meets the Egress standard or not.
Multiply the opening of your window (its width with its height), then convert the result to square feet.
Example: You have a window 15 "wide by 36.2" high (or vice versa). Multiply 15 "x 36.2", giving 543 ", which equals 3.77 ft2, the minimum area to meet.

Higher requirements by province or municipality
Please note, although this standard is governed by the National Building Code, this is a minimum requirement. Provinces and municipalities are free to set more stringent requirements, so we advise you to be well informed before starting renovation. More frequently, installation of Egress hinges is required. These allow a larger opening, but make the cleaning more difficult from the inside.

For more details, do not hesitate to contact our experts who will be happy to answer your questions.

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