How to escape 2nd floor bedroom in case of fire

Do y’all have an recommendations for gear or protocol for escaping a second story bedroom in case of a fire between the bedroom and the stairwell that leaves the house?

I searched the forums and didn’t find anything.

I’m thinking a window breaker and some sort of collapsible ladder. 


  • Comments (52)

    • 4
      • 7

        Looks like the X-IT is a superior (reusable, more intuitive), albeit more pricey alternative, according to The Wirecutter 

      • 1

        Any good alternatives that you know of? The X-IT appears to be out of stock indefinitely.

    • 3

      Looking at this window breaker

    • 6

      If your bedroom windows are made out of tempered glass I don’t see why they wouldn’t break the same as auto glass.  I’ve watched this YouTube video a while ago of testing various escape tools from Amazon. 

      You might not have the most room or strength to break the glass during an emergency so getting one of the small spring loaded ones where you just push it against the glass and the spring loaded point breaks it might be a better solution than the other ones that look like hammers and require you to be able to swing hard to break the glass.

      • 5

        Thank you on both fronts! I’m not sure how I’d test these window breakers, so I might end up just getting one of each kind for both my car and home! 

      • 4

        I’ve liked the Resqme brand of the spring loaded version – compact and easily stored.  I haven’t tested it but did check out a few you tube videos where it was.  This was a good one with the seatbelt cutter tested too.  I have been able to easily get it to trigger so it doesn’t take a real strong push.   I’d not considered it for home escape.

    • 7

      Hi Lowell,

      First, here’s the Tilt & Turn window I referred to in “Home invasion – Preparation that could have prevented or changed the outcome.” The tilt & turn windows are for more than basement egress and are available in very large sizes. There are different manufacturers and these kinds of windows.

      I prefer the idea of a tilt & turn as opposed to breaking a window, which also makes noise if you are trying to evacuate with stealth. It takes time to clear glass out of the way and want to avoid getting a bad cut. A child might have problems doing this and would have to rely on an adult to evacuate. 




      I checked out some ladders. Costco sells First Alert – Pro is that it can be stored in the rooms and ease of access. Cons – One reviewer was concerned his children would have problems using it if they couldn’t get to them. He said the ladder was too heavy for them and there were issues with hooking it on properly.

      If I were in a multiple storey building, this is what I would use. It is attached and ready to deploy in an instant. It looks like a downspout, but it isn’t. This ladder would be used for a fire or home invasion situation. There is no time in either scenario to fiddle with hooking up a ladder and hoping it holds. Every second counts. This looks to be a much faster option plus another good point is that it is a rigid ladder. The drop down type ladders are not as stable especially for a child or infirm/injured person.


      Hope this helps.

      • 6

        Thank you for all this! Right now, I’m renting the second story of a duplex so getting different windows installed isn’t feasible for me. The home was built in the early 20th century and the windows are such that it’s a full pane of glass on the bottom and then a top section that opens up, so I figure breaking is the best option. I can snap a pic if you like! 

    • 7

      Good morning Lowell,

      Am not calling this a recommendation; just what I still have here. Our upstairs has pre-mounted rope ladders next to windows and deck. They are made of fire resistant rope.

      We are too old to use them … but rope can be “unraveled” and used for the inflatable. Two empty-nester senior citizens just cannot maneuver from a window or deck onto a ladder of any sort.  Thus, our protocol changed.  We stay downstairs.

      • 4

        Smart to adapt protocol with changing circumstances!

    • 6


      Good morning Lowell.

      Above link is the basic example of the rope ladders I’ve got here … hoping link works .

      My ladders have a metal fitting at top loop where attached to house.  The steps are wider.

      • 4


        Above shows some pictures of heat-resistant rope for a rope ladder.

      • 5

        I had forgotten that you could make a ladder out of rope.

        That would be a fun project to do with the kids. Thanks for sharing

      • 4

        How’d you decide to go with manufacturing one yourself vs buying a pre-made one? Do you think the one you’ve constructed is superior?

      • 3

        The price differential serves as a basic guideline.

        Personally, consider my construction superior to manufactured types. It had some additional “tailoring”. One of the modifications was to add a metal anti-abrasion fitting on top. Another was to make the “steps” a little wider. The ladders could be “unraveled” if rope needed for a water evac.

    • 8

      Make sure you have a good fire extinguisher or two. A fire extinguisher can put out a home fire 94% of the time as long as you can get to it within a short amount of time. 

      This is a prep I put off for years because of lack of knowledge of what one to get and thinking of where to store it. The Prepared set me straight last summer though when I came across their article about them. https://theprepared.com/gear/reviews/fire-extinguisher/

      • 3

        Yep I’ve got two in my small two-bedroom! I figure “one is none, two is one” was appropriate here.

      • 4

        Smart man! An extra $50 extinguisher is a small price to pay for potentially saving your entire house. One may be trapped by flames, on the other side of the house, or malfunctioning.

      • 3

        Lowell and Jay –

        Don’t forget fire blankets. One in the car and several in each room.

        You can cover yourself and the children should you need to get out in tough conditions. Just watch the sizes of the blankets available.

        Excellent advice on the fire extinguishers. Every home should have one in the basement, kitchen and bedrooms.

      • 2

        You know, I haven’t heard of a fire blanket before. I’ll have to do some research on them and consider them for my family. Is it really just that easy? Cover and make sure there are no gaps? 

      • 4

        Hi Jay

        I got a link for Grainger, but there are other places that sell fire blankets.

        They are used two ways:

        1) The smaller blankets are used to smother a fire

        2) The larger blankets are used to wrap a person in to get past a fire and avoid injury.


        Hope this helps

      • 1

        It sure does help! Thanks. Might be good to have a blanket in my youngest’s room just in case she panics or something.

      • 5


        Here is some other emergency info on emergency escape breathing devices and supplies. I was told that these types of devices are used in industrial settings. The example was that the device (not the linked one) would provide 10 minutes of breathable air so that employees could escape a building.

        So, I thought, hmm, why not have something like this as a means to provide breathable air while escaping a house. Fires can spread rapidly, but it is smoke that will get a person every time.

        I know a girl who had to crawl on her hands and knees out of her condo because the smoke spread that fast from neighbor’s condo and his dryer fire. Hope this helps.

        Emergency escape breathing device

      • 5

        Emergency escape breathing devices for fire scenario is such a good idea – you’re absolutely right that the majority of the time people die due to smoke inhalation.  I would really like to add this concept to my preps for a home fire scenario.  

        Ubique – have you purchased the particular emergency breathing device linked above?  

        I found another few options online, they are linked below.  I am a bit skeptical of these because I really can’t test them unless disaster strikes…and I would prefer not to learn at that critical moment the device doesn’t work well or that I unknowingly bought a $180 Halloween costume knock-off and got scammed.  



        Would The Prepared be willing to test out a few emergency escape breathing devices (if this hasn’t been done already) and share the results?  

        Does anybody have any ideas on how to protect small children from smoke?  All the models / concepts I found look like they’re only for adults.

        I have two small children (2 years old and 4 years old), so would definitely want to have something for them as well.

      • 4

        LNMOt – No, I have not purchased the item linked. It was meant as an example. I just found out about them from my husband who had his industrial safety ticket. The one he described to me was not as elaborate at the one in the link. His description was “it’s like a bag you put over your head and pull a cord and tie it around your neck. The bag inflates and you have 10 minutes of oxygen to escape the work place.”

        I think it is a great idea to have this type of device.

        I knew someone who barely made it out of her condo due to the smoke that was pouring into her unit. Her neighbor threw nylon swim trunks into his dryer and passed out in bed and forgot about them. They caught on fire. She woke up to smoke alarms going off and by the time she got her cat from under the bed, she had to crawl on hand and knees. She said it got bad really fast.

        Definitely, I think it’s a good idea for children. I wonder if a fire department would know about this type of item for children? Or, maybe an indusrial safety supply company?

        If I find anything, I’ll post back here on it.

      • 2

        Thanks so much!

      • 6


        Good morning LNMOt,

        In re small children; At above link’s FAQ, note the “Is there a version for children?”. This site should start research journey.

        ILC Dover is the benchmark company for the escape masks and hoods. Their products are relatively expensive. 

        As an aside, the Israelis have protective products that fit over infant cribs. Haven’t seen these but were mentioned in seminars I attended.

      • 7

        Thank you!  I will definitely spend time looking through their website – I appreciate the referral to a reputable company!

      • 2

        This is a great suggestion, and a good point of differentiation for fire blankets.  Agree with having one larger blanket in your youngest’s room, I will be adding this to my young children’s rooms!

    • 6

      Another vote for the X-IT ladders.  I did some research years ago and looked a lot of the different products out there.  I think the X-IT products have the best ergonomics.  One television station did a comparison between different models and found X-IT to be the best.  The video is quite dated, but it gives you some ideas on what to look for.  I have one in each bedroom that has a bed.  There web site is https://www.x-itproducts.com/?v=7516fd43adaa.  I don’t have any financial or other interest.

      Not sure that you need a window breaker, as you can usually open the window.  Besides, you might get all cut up walking on the glass or while going out the window.  If you really think it is necessary, you could try resqme (https://resqme.com) or Lifehammer (https://www.amazon.com/Lifehammer-Brand-Safety-Hammer-Netherlands/dp/B000BN3A4Y).

      This is one of the most overlooked safety products for people living in 2 or 3-story homes.

      • 6

        Bigwig – Fire escape equipment is overlooked for both fire and home security evacuation. That’s why I included it in the home invasion scenario. I wanted to see how many people were using them.

        I’m really glad to see anyone in a multi store home now looking at this equipment. It can save lives.

        Good for you for starting a separate thread because it might have gotten buried in the Home Invasion thread.

      • 5

        I’ve got two windows in my bedroom: one that doesn’t open at all (just a pane of glass) and another that only opens on the top portion, and I’m not confident that the bar in the middle will hold weight nearly as much weight as the window sill. I can take a pic if you’d be down to evaluate!

      • 3

        I’m up for seeing a pic

    • 6

      Top 3 Best Fire Blankets

      Good afternoon Lowell,

      Above is an intro type article on fire blankets.

      It would be most anvantageous to visit your area fire station and “just ask around” to discuss use and FD experience in responding to fires where someone had already used a fire blanket.

      As an aside, not for home use, but there’s also a fire tent the forest fire jumpers carry.  The tents don’t always work but am mentioning the principle.  These tents are heavy and, of course, expensive but worth knowing about.

      • 4

        Really great info, Bob. Thanks for posting link.

    • 4

      Good morning,

      A Look at Fire Escape Slides And Other Safety Devices

      A group member will soon start working on rigging an upstairs window with an aircraft type slide. This couple also mentioned at other window, out of casual view, they might also use a childrens’ playground type of slide. They’re going to use some part of a deer stand for setup.

      The aircraft slide’s compressed gas canister must be addressed re temperature control.

      At our meeting, I mentioned to consider arrangement for this exercise program to incorporate somehow a bag of flakey camphor to keep bugs, snakes away from ground interface with both types of slides.  

      Aircraft slides on buildings is not a recent innovation.  What’s recent is the material is now realistically priced.

      Mentioned at meeting was a cost to replace window with better type or re-do/ rehab (padding) window sill’s bottom section to minimize any easily avoidable injuries. 

      • 3


        I was thinking about aircraft slides as a possibility.

        The window sill padding could be addressed with a prefab foam padded cushion designed in square U shape that could fit upside down onto the sill (it’s hard to describe.) It could be put onto the sill plate quickly.

        I wonder if there are ropes with hand and foot hold or harness that could be hooked on a well secured inside and then the person would go down in a steady descent? It’s almost like what’s used in rappeling but with ease of use. I don’t if such a things exists.

      • 6

        Good morning Ubique,

        Saw above ~ 5 hours ago.  You’re a week ahead of me re COVID shot/jab. Had to rest until now …… well, actually I’m in rest mode here, so …

        in re “ropes with hand and foot hold or harness …”, surf around:

        http://www.rescuetech1.com .  I have a 5 year old catalog so possible changes in catalog. In address, befor the dot com, if the number “1” doesn’t allow link to click, it might be a letter “i”.  

        Look for a product called  “Rappel Rack”.

        This company, if still around, is:

        Rescue Technology

        Carolton, Georgia  20117

        Some of the stuff we’re discussing on this thread is used by specialized teams for emergencies such as – collapsed trench rescues – .

        Just about everything is priced for public sector and industrial purchases. I study what industry uses and then consider to improvise with reality governing. 

      • 2

        Good morning Bob,

        Can you take a look at LNMOt’s situation below and my response to her today?

        Thank you for the rappel rack info. I don’t know if LNMOt is going to have the time for it considering the information she posted this morning. She has also stated her strength may be an issue.

        I hope you are resting well since your shot. Which shot did you get? I had the Pfizer. I really didn’t have side effects, although the second shot might, but it still beats the alternative.

        I do the industrial checks for items/problem solving also. When masks were sold out, I took that route and got mine topped up. 

        Before I start lugging planters and soil around, I’m going to check some fire department/organization info for information on LNMOt’s situation and if there is something else that can be done. Also, I’m going to look for exterior metal fire escape product info.

      • 2

        Good morning Ubique,

        I agree with your guidance.

        My statement here is for LNMOt to stay closer to kids. This could even mean staying on ground floor. Forget about Architecture Magazine and the neighbors.  Two and 5 year olds – especially if fire vapors already present – cannot handle situation.

        Even before asking a Fire Fighter to visit home for practical advice, bedroom arrangements must be reconfigured. After both kids are a few years older, original arrangements can be returned to.

        There is precious few seconds to put on gloves, go to children, break window. The presumptions will no be present. What if LNMOt gets hurt ? Inhales some poisonous vapors ? There are multiple outbursts of the fire ?

        Be close to the children during routine living conditions. NEVER plan to go outside for an inside rescue.


        Overall situation is solvable.  Rearrange living conditions to include the heavy duty gloves and a couple of extra fire extinguishers strategically placed around place. I know my above rambling is rough and caustic. There is no other way to say all this.




        and the door knobs can be changed to a type that can be pushed open on latch section with arm already in a thick shirt or field jacket.

      • 4

        Thank you Bob – sage advice.  It will be challenging to get my husband to agree with this plan, but at the very least when he’s travelling for work (which starting in a few months will be back to every few weeks) I will ensure both my children are very nearby at night.

        It’s a good reminder for myself and others – when purchasing a house or when evaluating potential rentals, there are a lot of things to consider.  Make sure house layout from a preparedness perspective is one of them!

      • 5

        Thank you so much for your help Ubique!

    • 5

      A few other things to consider, depending on your situation.

      Heat resistant gloves are something I am planning to add to my preps and keep in our bedroom as part of our home fire scenario escape and rescue planning.  In a fire, door knobs can become extremely hot – having heat resistant gloves will help address that issue.

      Also, I found the below product on Amazon – I have two small children so this concept seems like a wonderful idea and I am also planning to add this to my preps.  It’s an emergency basket that you can put children or pets in (up to 150 pounds!) and lower them safely out the window down to the group.  In theory this could also be used to escape from a 2nd story window in the event of a home invasion.  The window escape ladders would be impossible for small children to navigate, and I can’t even imagine trying to hold on to my two kids (my husband travels frequently so I could be by myself in this emergency scenario) while trying to climb down an emergency ladder.

      ISOP Emergency Escape Bag for Small Children and Pets

      • 4

        LNMOt – Hot doors and door knobs can mean that the fire is raging right there so maybe get some advice from the fire dept about that one. I was taught to feel the doors and if they’re hot don’t open. I think that is how you get back draft where the fire explodes into the room once the door is opened. Maybe check that out.

        I do like the idea of heat resistant gloves or a heavy work glove especially if you are lowering something. It would help prevent rope burn on bare hands or if you have to get glass out of the way.

        I really like the emergency basket and that is such a great idea for children and pets. You bring a good point about having to deal with an emergency alone. Preps need to take that into account. 

        And your point that It can be deployed rapidly if there is a home invasion covers another prepping base with one item.

      • 6

        Thank you Ubique!  I truly appreciate the refresher on basic fire safety – I had forgotten about that rule regarding hot door knobs.  This is a good reminder for me, being prepared isn’t just about having the tools, it’s also having the background research and knowledge.  

        Where I was going with the fire resistant gloves – my master bedroom is on one side of the house, and my two children’s bedrooms are on the other side of the house, separated by a hallway about 15ish feet long, with the stairs to the lower level of our house in the middle of the hallway.  My biggest concern is waking up in the middle of the night to the fire alarm going off, to find the only path to rescue my two children (the hallway between our bedrooms) is blocked by fire.  Given the layout of my house, this is a real possibility.

        If that were to happen, I would have to escape from my bedroom window via fire ladder and then have a way to get up to my kids bedroom windows to rescue them independently from the outside.  I am looking at some telescoping ladders that could be used to access their bedroom windows on the 2nd floor from the outside.  The recommendations of window breakers was helpful as I would need that tool to break their bedroom windows. The link to the one telescoping ladder I was heavily considering is below.


        I actually had to call 911 for the fire department recently because of a close-call related to our wood burning stove.  It took the fire department about 10 minutes to get to our house.  

        I figure if my kids need to be rescued, I can’t wait for the fire department to get to my house, it will be too late.

        Does anybody have any recommendations on how to deal with the above scenario, regarding being unable to get to my children inside the house and having to rescue from the outside?  Other ideas besides the telescoping ladder?  I am not that strong, so the telescoping design seems to be light weight and easier to manage for me.

      • 3


        Edited to add info at end of reply:

        The first concern is what happened with your wood stove? 

        Creosote is the biggest cause of chimmney fires. Do you get your chimmney checked and cleaned on a regular basis? I believe the standard is once a year.

        Also if you burn green wood, you will accumulate creosote much faster in your chimmney.

        With respect to the layout of your home, you are right to be concerned about it. It is not ideal to have a stairway and 15′ feet of hallway between yourself and your children on an upper level.

        Home layouts and stairways can moved, but it is a major renovation.

        Fires move at a much faster rate than what we imagine, especially if you live in an older home.

        I think you might have problems getting out and down out of your room and then climbing back up to rescue your children, even with a mother’s instinct and adrenlaline pumping.

        A fire could impact the structure of the stairs and using them could cause you to go down before you even get to the children. In the confusion and smoke, you may not be able to tell if the stairs are safe to use and they could collapse. 

        Also, depending on how the stairs are constructed the area around them could collapse due to how the house is structured.

        The best thing I can think of is to install a metal exterior fire escape that connects between the master bedroom and the children’s bedrooms.

        This way, you can egress your bedroom window, run the fire escape to the children while calling 911, open their window and get them out of there with all of you exiting the fire escape together.

        What you need to watch for is opening windows and feeding more oxygen into a house during a fire. You are going to need to move very quickly once you break and enter the children’s window to rescue them.

        I’m checking for other things that might help

        I found this photo of a outdoor fire escape linking two area of a home. It is the first large photo of a black metal balcony.


    • 4

      One thing that I haven’t seen discussed in this thread (sorry if I missed it!) is lighting.  Lighting may not be as big of an issue if your plan is simply to throw an escape ladder on your window frame and descend to the ground outside.  But what if that isn’t an option for whatever reason (having to help family members or perhaps your planned exit is blocked by fire), and you have to travel through rooms, hallways and down stairs to get out?  

      Between smoke, soot and other airborne debris, it may be impossible to see at all?  Ubique mentioned the example of somebody having to crawl on the floor to get out of the building.  

      Given the visibility challenges during a fire, I was wondering what the best prep would be for light to help improve visibility for rescue or escape?

      Would a headlamp help or hurt the visibility challenges?  I have seen some fire emergency kits contain glow sticks – are glow sticks the recommended prep to have on hand if you have to navigate a building to escape?  

      I want to include lighting in my fire kit preps, but unsure what is the best option. 

      • 6

        Good evening LNMOt,

        Believe lighting not discussed because it is inherently necessary for fires – and all else requiring light, especially nighttime.

        Re: Headlight: help or not, 

        Re: Glo Sticks

        Re: Best Prep; best options;


        Only for presentation here … even though rated among the best of products … there are other high quality companies. Glance at the linked page in re smoke penetration lights.  One professional model series on page 36 and 37 (hopefully link directly opens to these pages) is the Vulcan series.

        Yes, headlight an ideal light. Would avoid glo sticks.

        For BEST options … Again, to provoke thought; not recommending second load on the house to get all this stuff … ;

        1. Consider a flashlight next to each upstairs window that uses a docking station.  They are always ready (in theory) and there’s a large pilot light that can be seen throughout the room. They also also handheld flashlights.

        2.  Even during hurricanes, I sleep with a small 1 battery (AA size) flashlight clipped to my whatever I’m wearing….typically a sweatshirt.

        3.  Yes, head lights !  Spend some time surfing around the above Streamlight catalog.  Many other stores eg local Big Box stores … carry adequate headlights for private citizen preparedness. Mine is attached to a hardhat with fluorescent tape on helmet. 

        Back to best prep / best options; Does the kids’ room have door and window outlined with fluorescent tape or equivalent paint ?


      • 4

        You could always go with a business style emergency exit light above your exit to strobe and flash the direction of the exit. 

        Not sure what would be the best source of light to navigate through a fire but from when I’ve driven in thick snow before and had my high beams on, the light reflected from the snow into my eyes and decreased visibility. I had to drive with my low beams on that pointed more downward and didn’t reflect back into my eyes as much. I’m thinking that thick smoke might just reflect a light from a headlamp into your eyes. 

        But don’t fire fighters have lights on their helmets? So maybe my theory is junk. 

        I’m just guessin here, but I think that goggles would be the better prep. Keeping the hot ash and smoke out of your eyes will do more good than anything else.

      • 5

        Good morning Conrad,

        It is an excellent goal to have the mentioned (and pictured) emergency extra lights. Besides the “basic business” types like in picture, there are more elaborate lights on, for example, oil rigs, ocean going vessels, … Of course, $$$ involved. Residential housing and safety codes have yet to be modernized.

        You’re right to use low beams for snow reflection problems. This is also especially true for fog conditions.

        Yes, some fire fighters have lights on helmets. So, too, others in various industries. Your theory is still correct. These helmet lights are the “low beam” type.

        In the Streamlight.com catalog I posted somewhere above on thread, is a graphic chart show the 3 displays of light: the “flood light” – covers a wide area, the narrow focused beam – “narrow” is key word and a third display; forgot what, it’s on chart.

        Googles are real good. Just about all of this depends one’s one’s arrangements, plans, budget and various other circumstances. If there was a fire in this place now, while going to exit door, I’d hope to be grabbing my hardhat with attached and positioned face shield and helmet light. In my helmet bag are googles and other stuff, eg wool watch cap, nomex fire hood placed on head before helmet.  All these things take time to put on and we are dealing in seconds. Less the practiced preparations, there is still a large uncertainity … an outright gamble to get out with family.

        Those who read, contemplate  and act on TP.com themed threads will do the best. 

      • 3


        This link, at catalog page 13, has a basic chart with title “Different Kinds of Beams   For Different Types of Tasks”.

        It would be advantageous to go through catalog and identify some models that fit the needed smoke-defeating category, THEN

        visit local fire station and “ask around” what’s best for one’s situation. Then you’ll probably hear good places to get what is needed at decent cost.

        Do remember all problems will not necessarily be smoke. The local fire fighters can clarify all this.