An egress window is required in any room in a house that does not have a door that leads directly to the exterior of the house, or does not have a sprinkler system.
Basement Windows & Bedroom Windows
Although this applies to any room in the house, it’s usually only basement windows and bedroom windows that are treated as egress windows. Most other rooms in the house, like kitchens or living rooms, likely have adequate egress or access to an exterior door.
Because space in most basement bedroom windows is limited, sliding windows are usually the best choice as they maximize the openable area.
The following information will help you ensure you choose the right type of window for all egress windows in your home.
2006 Alberta Building Code
220.127.116.11. Bedroom Windows
- Except where the suite is sprinklered, each bedroom or combination bedroom shall have at least one outside window or exterior door openable from the inside without the use of key, tools or special knowledge and without the removal of sashes or hardware.
- The window referred to in Sentence (1) shall
- provide an unobstructed opening of not less than 0.35 m2 in area with no dimension less than 380 mm, and
- maintain the required opening during an emergency without the need for additional support.
- If the window referred to in Sentence (1) is provided with security bars, the security bars shall be openable from the inside without the use of any tools or special knowledge.
18.104.22.168. Window Opening into a Window-Well
- Where a window required in Article 22.214.171.124. opens into a window-well, a clearance of not less than 550 mm shall be provided in front of the window.
- Where the sash of a window referred to in Sentence (1) swings towards the window well, the operation of the sash shall not reduce the clearance in a manner that would restrict escape in an emergency.
- Where a protective enclosure is installed over the window well referred to in Sentence (1), the enclosure shall be openable from the inside without the use of keys, tools or special knowledge of the opening mechanism.
Alberta Health Services
Alberta Health Services has provided the following for clarification:
The unobstructed opening must be measured between the window components (sashes, jambs, sills, opening mechanisms, etc.) with the window in the fully open position. It is not simply the dimensions of the rough opening or the glass area.
Breaking a window may create an opening, but nothing suggests that openings are to be provided this way, nor is it safe to crawl over or between bits of broken glass.
Windows should be easy to operate and obviously openable. Any type of window that requires several steps to operate requires “special knowledge.” A window that must be adjusted by incorporating these steps to obtain the minimum opening is unacceptable. This would include units that “slide-and-tilt,” pop-up, unclip from two or more locations, detach-and-remove, etc. For example, a slider window that has the ability to flip open into the room (for ease of cleaning) requires several steps and is not considered to be a normally opening window.
Window Styles and Types
Windows that can satisfy the requirements of the Minimum Housing and Health Standards and the Alberta Building Code are usually the “full vent inswing awning,” “casement,” and “slider”.
Hoppers and awning types are the least desirable types of windows for bedrooms.