What is an alternative escape route?

Every level or storey on which people live or spend time must have a fire escape route. Find out how you can escape from the first floor or cellar.

The main requirement is for every dwelling to have at least one escape route that leads directly outside. Dwellings with several occupied storeys must also have alternative escape routes. Here is a list of alternative escape routes and the requirements that apply to these.

Through the window

If it is less than 5 metres down to the ground, you can use a window or balcony as an escape route. The opening in the window must be at least 0.5 metres wide and at least 0.6 m high. Width and height added together must come to at least 1.5 metres. The window should not be a skylight.

Fire escape ladder

If you fit a fire escape ladder with safety hoops – a kind of cage around the ladder that protects you from falling backwards – you can use a window that is up to 7.5 metres above the ground as an escape route.

Fit the ladder at least two metres away from windows in the storey below. If the storey below is on fire, you will not be able to use the ladder if it is fitted too close to the windows on that storey. If you have to fit the ladder closer than the minimum distance, you must also fit a flame screen that protects the ladder from fire.

Escape routes from cellars

You can escape from the cellar via a door in the cellar wall that leads directly into the open air. Another possible solution is a cellar window plus cellar stairs up to the next floor, provided that this has an exit at ground level. In that case, the window must be at least 0.6 metres wide and at least 0.5 m high. Width and height added together must come to at least 1.5 metres.

If you intend to use the cellar window as an escape route, it must be in a place that can never be blocked by snow on the outside. If necessary, fit underfloor heating to prevent this from happening.

The window must be easy to reach from the inside, and easy to get through. Remember that it might be difficult to escape through a window that you open by lifting upwards.

Cellar windows that are used as escape routes must not lead into rooms or shafts that are difficult to climb out of.

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