Homeowners replace their windows for a range of reasons, including efficiency, style and safety. If fire safety is one of the top reasons why you are replacing your windows, there are several facts you should keep in mind. Take a look at these tips:
1. Make sure windows provide egress in fires.
To be consistent with international building codes, the windows in all bedrooms should also work as exits. To this end, make sure that your windows offer ample space for an adult to climb in or out of them. If you are adding windows to a basement, consider spending extra to add full-size windows. You will need to dig large window wells as well, but once in place, you should easily be able to climb out of these windows, into the window well and then hoist yourself onto the ground.
2. Add emergency release devices to security bars.
If you want to add security bars on any of your windows, you need to make sure that they can keep thieves out but still allow you or other family members to pass through the window in the case of an emergency. This is possible with emergency release devices. Look for devices that can be easily manipulated by everyone in your family, including older people with arthritic fingers or dexterity issues and small children who are still developing fine motor skills. Note that, if children are too little to open a window on their own, you may want to have them sleep in your room until they are old enough to escape from a fire on their own.
3. Educate family members on how to escape from windows.
In addition to installing the right types of windows, you need to ensure that everyone in your family knows how to open them. After installing the windows, have a family meeting to go over safety tips and opening instructions. Review how to open the windows in the event of fire on a regular basis with children who may forget the instructions.
4. Opt for fire resistant glass.
If you are afraid of fires starting outside your house and then starting your house on fire, you should also insist upon windows that are set up to resist fire. This is particularly important, for example, in areas where bushfires are a concern.
In these cases, look for windows with a fire resistant glaze. Typically, these glazes are measured by the number of minutes they can resist fire. For example, a 90-minute rating means that the glass can be exposed to fire for 90 minutes without succumbing to it, cracking or breaking.
5. Choose fire resistant materials to surround the window.
In addition to choosing windows that can resist fires, also choose window sills and, if possible, wall materials that are resistant to fires. In terms of frames, look for sturdy aluminium or other metal frames rather than wood or plastics that burn or melt relatively easily.
If you don't mind adding a bit of extra construction work to your window replacement project, also invest in fireproof insulation, siding or other accompaniments. They will impede the flow of fire through your house and also keep the area around the windows safe so that you can use the window as an exit without worrying about flames leaping around the area.
6. Pair the new windows with other safety devices.
In addition to new windows, you may also want to invest in additional safety accessories. For example, for first and second story windows and higher, invest in fire safety ladders -- consider ladders attached to the home rather than rope ladders so you don't have to worry about losing them or looking for them when a fire strikes. Also, make sure that you have adequate fire alarms and stickers on the windows to indicate bedroom occupancy.
Talk with a fire safety company and a window replacement contractor for more info and advice on making sure your home is safe.