The 6 Best Escape Ladders
6. Hausse Retractable
- deploys very quickly
- has a relatively small footprint
- several sharp edges to beware of
|Rating||4.0 / 5.0|
5. ResQLadder FL50SL
- perfect for hotels or apartments
- unravels quickly
- heavy and difficult to move
|Rating||4.1 / 5.0|
4. First Alert EL53W-2 Three-Story
- tested to a 1125 pound capacity
- dupont cordura nylon strapping
- fits 6-13-inch windows
|Rating||4.9 / 5.0|
3. Kidde KL-2S Two-Story
- white hooks easy to find at night
- anti-slip coating on rungs
- no assembly necessary
|Rating||4.7 / 5.0|
2. X-IT 2 Story
- can be deployed by children
- weighs less than 6 pounds
- comfortable even on bare feet
|Rating||4.7 / 5.0|
1. Werner ESC220
- blends in well with most decor
- instructions are very helpful
- can be reused as often as necessary
|Rating||5.0 / 5.0|
It's Good To Be Standoffish
Escape ladders hook onto the area of wall below your windowsill with two curved pieces of metal. That curvature utilizes the strength of the wall itself to support the ladder, kind of like the grappling hook. What hangs over and out of the windowsill are the rope ladders of old, but modernly updated with rungs supported by chain or sturdy nylon straps to ensure higher weight capacity. The last missing element are the standoffs.
We don't mean standoff as in a room full of actors pointing guns at one another; rather, small rubber pegged feet that not only keep the ladder from scratching the side of your home's exterior, but they also keep it from swinging uncontrollably once you're climbing down it.
Standoffs exist to create space between the rungs of the ladder and the wall, increasing the stability of the ladder itself, decreasing the amount of damage done to your siding, and, most importantly, giving you enough room to climb down without injury.
Drill, Baby, Drill!
I used to love fire drills. The long, tedious school day, indiscernible from the days before it, indicative of the days to come, could sometimes drag on endlessly. Then you'd hear it: that piercing, shrill alarm. Almost without thought your body would rise and head toward an exit, in an orderly line, of course.
Once outside, in the fresh, clean air, away from textbooks and chalkboards, away from droning teachers and looming bullies, there was the hint of freedom. Fire drills serve two important purposes. First, they train the body to act without interference from the mind. Second, they break up the monotony of quotidian suburbia.
Choosing the right ladder will make your drilling process that much nicer, as deployment and resetting will be easier, and the climb down less frightening. The first thing to consider, however, is how much ladder you actually need. Every ladder on our list can be purchased in a variety of lengths to suit the needs of your home. Count the stories up to your highest window, then buy a ladder that goes one higher.
Trust me, the last thing you want to do is buy a two story ladder today, only to move into a three story home next year and have to replace it. Also, take a look at the weight of each ladder and its relative ease of use. If you mean for a child to deploy it for themselves, make sure they can handle it.
England To The Rescue
In the late 1700s, an Englishman by the name of Daniel Maseres invented the first fire escape of any recognizable kind. Though you may picture a device more medieval than practical, they were actually window-deployed ladders, just like the ones we're discussing today.
The superintendent of the Royal Society for the Protection of Life from Fire improved on the idea, and the english fire escape was on its way. The US wouldn't have an official patent on a fire escape system until nearly 100 years later.
As cities grew, building codes demanded that construction include metal fire escapes, which led to a decline in the need for the deploying ladders of our page. But since the end of the Second World War, suburban sprawl has spiraled out of control, and individual homes require no such escapes in their building codes, leaving the escape routes up to the homeowner.
Thanks in large part to that sprawl, and also due to the increased flammability of housing materials and furniture manufactured overseas, these ladders are more important than ever.