All you need to know about Egress windows in Canada
Have you ever been involved in a fire accident or any other life threatening incident? In such a situation, you get confused and thinking rationally may be quite challenging. People scramble for the door which in most cases leads to accidents. Countable people bother to look for exits in buildings. If you have been in such a compromising position before, you know how important an egress window is to a building.
We have decided to educate you about egress window requirement in Canada by compiling some of the most important things that you should know about them.
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What is an Egress Window?
An egress window is an escape window leading outside that every bedroom must have unless there is an exterior door or fire sprinkler system installed. It should also meet specific requirements according to the National Building Code of Canada.
An Egress Window must provide an unobstructed opening with a minimum area of 3.77 ft2 (0.35 m2), and with no dimension less than 15“(380mm). For example, a window with an unobstructed clear opening of 15″ by 15″ is not suitable because the area would be less than the minimum required 3.77 ft2.
In case of emergency, egress windows should be easy for anyone to open from the inside without the use of keys, tools or special knowledge to allow persons to escape a bedroom.
If a window in a basement bedroom has a window-well, then the window opening into the window-well must be at least 30” in front of the designated egress window.
For egress windows that open to the outside (such as awning windows), the window opening into the window-well must also be at least 30” from the edge of the opened window sash to the window well so that there is room for a safe evacuation route.
In addition to the National Building Code of Canada, each province may have additional requirements such as: the maximum sill height for escape windows from the floor level, the percentage of light coming into a bedroom, as well as others.
There are certain types of windows best suited for egress such as: Casement windows, Slider windows, Hung windows, Tilt & Turn windows, and Hopper windows.
Types of Windows Best Suited for Egress
Practical and attractive casement windows are opened up to 90 degrees with a convenient crank handle
Slider windows are affordable, stylish, and functional. With one fixed sash, the other slides open for circulation
Single hung windows are the ideal solution for rooms with limited space as they open vertically
Egress Windows Requirements
According to the National Building Code of Canada (NBCC), a bedroom window should meet various requirements which are:
- The window should be large enough such that it can be used as an Emergency Exit. You should be able to open such a window without special knowledge, hardware, tools or keys
- The window must provide adequate Ventilation throughout the year
- The window should provide at least 5 percent Light to the entire room
However, these building codes are not the same for all provinces. It is important for you to conduct your research or contact Window Mart to find out the building codes that apply to your area of residence.
Egress Window Size Limitations
Like earlier mentioned, egress window sizes vary in provinces and cities. It is advisable that you visit your city offices for first hand information. Let’s have a look at the Alberta Building Code (ABC 2014) criteria that all egress windows must satisfy:
- Unobstructed opening of not less than 0.35 m2 (3.77 sq.ft) in area with no dimension less than 380 mm (15 inches) (this window should maintain the required opening during an emergency without the need for additional support).
- All dimensions should be over 380 mm (15 inches).
- If a window well is required, it must be out from the window at least 760 mm (about 30 inches) to provide easy exit.
- The window well opening must be more than 760 mm (about 30 inches) deep.
- 44 inches (about 1118 mm) maximum sill height from the floor level.
- Net clear opening is the actual clear/free space available when you fully open the window.
- The opening should be large enough to allow people to crawl through.
- Tools and keys should also not be used to open the window.
- You are free to install grates and bars as long as keys or tools are not needed to open them.
Windows A and B CONFORM to height, width and area requirements.
Windows C conforms with height and with requirements; DOES NOT CONFORM to area requirements.
Check Egress Window Size Limitation
The National Building Code of Canada 2015, “Bedroom Windows and Window Wells” requires “Unobstructed opening” of not less than 0.35 m2 in area (3.77 sq. ft.) with no dimension less than 380 mm (15“) in height or width and maintain the required opening during an emergency without the need for additional support.
Select a window style:
- The narrowest sliding window which can be produced for egress is 44“ wide (adjust height accordingly)
- The shortest sliding window which can be produced for egress is 24 ¾“ tall (adjust width accordingly)
Unobstructed opening: ft2