In case there is a fire in the building that you are in, it is very important to have a well thought out fire escape plan. The plan should allow for easy evacuation from the burning building to safer grounds. For those who are not on ground level, a fire escape is invaluable, and knowing how to build your own may save your own life, and the lives of others.
- 2 lengths of ½” 3 strand rope, one for each side of the ladder
- 1×4 timber, 4-6” wider than the open window
- Tape measure
- Sharp knife
- Before you start the construction of your fire escape, consider a few things: do you already have a fire escape plan? Also, do you have a window that can be fully opened on a vertical hinge incorporated into that plan? These elements are important as without a fire escape plan that leads to a suitable window opening, the fire escape ladder will be useless. If your plan does not lead to a window that is suitable for the positioning of the fire escape, revise your escape plan.
- Once you have revised your escape plan and designated a spot for the fire escape to be positioned, measure the height of the drop from the window to where the fire escape should end.
- Double the length measured, considering the knots that need to be tied. Ensure the two lengths of ½” 3 strand rope you have for the sides of your ladder cannot melt; natural fibre rope like manila and sisal is most suitable.
- Cut enough 18” wide steps from your 1×4 timber to be spaced at about 12” apart on the rope. The steps should be enough to go from the very top of the rope right down to the end.
- Use a drill to make ½” holes in the centre of the timber, approximately 1 ½” from each end. Begin installing the steps at the bottom of the fire escape by double knotting the rope and feeding it through the first step.
- Measure twelve inches up from the first step. Tie another knot and feed this one through the next step.
- Repeat the process until the fire escape is long enough to reach the window sill; use the longest piece of timber as the final step.
- If the fire escape is properly constructed, it should hang from the window easily. Test it to see if it holds up.
- To finish roll it up and store it in a place that is easily accessible; consider if this place will still be easily accessible even when there is a fire.
Tips and warnings
- Practise escape plans every month
- Plan two ways out of each room.
- Immediately evacuate a building when a fire occurs.
- Never open doors that are hot to the touch
- Designate a meeting location away from your home.
- Once you’ve evacuated the building, do not re-enter it.