An egress window is a window that provides safe exit from a building or home. When a homeowner finishes or remodels a bedroom, residential building codes require an egress window. Egress windows are intended for easy escape as well as easy entrance by firefighters or other rescue workers.
The International Residential Code (IRC) requires a minimum opening of 5.7 square feet for egress windows. The square footage must be configured with a minimum height of 24 inches and minimum width of 20 inches. This would mean that a window width of 20 inches would require a height of 41 inches. A 24 inch height would require a width of 34 ¼ inches minimum. The measurements are clear opening measurements, not frame size.
Any configuration of width and height can be used as long as it complies with IRC minimum standards and local building codes. A building permit will be needed from your municipality which will provide any additional requirements for your area.
Placement requirements of egress windows take into consideration access by children as well as adults. The maximum measurement between the floor and the bottom of the opening is 44 inches. Keep in mind that this is not the measurement to the bottom sash but rather to the opening of the window.
Emergency escape window wells must provide a minimum space of 9 square feet of opening with the window fully open. The required minimum dimension is 36 inches wide and deep. If the window opens outward the space must enable the window to open fully. If the window well is more than 44 inches deep from ground level, a ladder or stairs must be permanently anchored and may not interfere with the window opening.
Egress emergency escape windows should be easily accessible and easy to operate. Avoid using long curtains or heavy blinds that will impede a person's ability to move through the opening. Make sure the space around the window is not cluttered.
Do not use additional or complicated locks, latches or well covers. Be sure that everyone can easily operate the latch and open the window easily. Check that the window is in good operating condition. A good time to do this is when you change the batteries in your smoke alarm.
Practice all escape routes with your family and designate a meeting area.