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Having access to a portable fire escape ladder in times of an emergency evacuation from anywhere higher than a ground floor window, is really forward planning. Some people argue that it is chancing luck or playing with fire to think in these terms, but it really is common sense to plan ahead.
Portable = Ease of Use
These portable ladders are designed to be deployed with minimum fuss and panic. The ladders are considered “portable” because of their size and purpose – it is not recommended that they be moved around the house, as it is likely it could be required in bedroom 1, only to find someone had moved it to bedroom 2 some time ago.
They are also considered “portable” since they are not permanently fixed.
So how does a Fixed Evacuation Ladder compare?
It is possible to purchase and install fixed evacuation ladders and these would usually be attached to an outside wall. They are deployed typically by removing a locking pin and opening the ladder outwards. The benefit of this ladder is that they are more rigid, so arguably easier to descend in a hurry as they are unlikely to sway or move. An example of this type of ladder is the Fold-Out Fixed Fire Escape ladder
Measuring for your emergency escape ladder
Portable escape ladders are usually relatively inexpensive and for that reason, more than one can be purchased to be used in multiple rooms over multiple floors. First identify your likely escape routes, and whether they are balconies, windows, or roof windows.
It is important to measure the height that is required for your ladder from the expected egress point. Use a piece of string perhaps wrapped around a weight such as an empty soda bottle or milk bottle that is filled with water. From your exit point, while holding one end of the roll of string, drop the other weighted end of the string until it touches the ground. Then cut the string and let the weighted part fall to the ground.
Finally, return downstairs to collect the string, and stretch it out over a flat clear area which will enable you to measure the height or length with a regular tape measure. Once you have determined the height that is required, you can look to purchase an escape ladder that is the best fit.
Also consider that different windows, balconies or doors may have obstacles or protrusions which could affect the length of the ladder that is required, so its best not to automatically assume all are the same.
Portable ladders are generally cheaper
So given that the cost of these portable escape ladders is lower than the fixed option, one could buy a number of ladders to give every resident, tenant, or family member, the maximum amount of time to reach the escape point from where ever they are in the building.
And another thing…
Portable ladders can also be folded or curled for storage – so perhaps store them under a bed or in a corner of the room. Whatever the method of storage, one needs to ensure that they are immediately accessible if needed in that emergency. Therefore, extreme car should also be taken, that they do not become storage receptacles for laundry or children’s toys.
Some portable ladders are sold with small cases, like a briefcase, that gets attached to the wall or placed under the bed. Other ladders may be attached to the wall by way of two rings or hooks which are screwed securely in to the wall to hold the weight of the likeliest or heaviest user. In the emergency, then the hooks of the ladder are inserted into the rings, with the body of the ladder carefully thrown outward over the window ledge or balcony.
The simplest option is to use the hooks on the ladder which hook over the window ledge. However, it is worth checking that your window ledge is narrow enough for the hooks as some ladders do have a limit on the size.
Other methods of fixing or attaching your ladders are possible, so it is worth requesting assistance from your local DIY person or building contractor.
So make your choice of escape ladder
Portable fire escape ladders are inexpensive and can be utilised in a number of ways but require some planning and forethought.
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