Wanting to protect our homes, businesses and schools from intruders is a given but in weighing up security needs, a balance must
always be struck between keeping out that which poses a threat and allowing those inside to exit safely and quickly in the event of an emergency such as a fire or terrorist attack. For this reason, most public buildings have push bar egress doors fitted as standard to facilitate fast evacuation – but what about your home?
A fire can spread with frightening speed and reach over 1000 degrees in just five minutes. Often lives are needlessly lost because people cannot exit quickly enough; people die as the result of smoke inhalation or from their injuries and children are especially vulnerable. Therefore it is crucial to bear in mind that whatever measures you use to keep your property secure, must also allow for easy egress should you and your loved ones need to make good your escape.
Aside from taking sensible precautions such as installing a smoke alarm near bedrooms (and testing it regularly) and planning your family’s escape route in the event of fire, from a security perspective there are two things you can do today to greatly enhance your safety at home.
- Window Bars
If your property has metal window bars or door gates, it is essential that you install a quick release mechanism to each set. Such devices save lives without compromising security from the outside, and most can be activated with a simple push-button action. Those fitted with deadbolts which require a key or specialist knowledge in order to be opened are dangerous and put lives at risk, as well as hindering firefighter rescue.
To this end, many states among them California, Washington, South Dakota and
New York have adopted fire and building codes which stipulate that any burglar bar device fitted to a bedroom window must be easy to open from the inside and without the need for special tools or excessive force – a view readily endorsed by reputable locksmiths, who can advise on retro-fitting existing bars or installing newer, more safety-conscious options.
NB In certain states e.g. New York window guards are a standard requirement for some dwellings e.g. in apartments where a child under ten is living. Window guards are small barriers designed to prevent children from falling out and injuring themselves. For this reason, it’s vital they are not attached to any window used to access a fire escape.
- Double cylinder deadbolts
During an emergency there isn’t time to hunt around for a key, especially in a fire where smoke and debris may be such that you won’t be able to see to find it. For this reason, double cylinder deadbolts (that is a lock with a keyhole on both sides of the door) should NEVER be locked from the outside if anyone is inside the property, unless a key is left in the lock on the interior side.
To minimize this risk altogether, on the interior side of exit doors consider fitting a sliding bolt which requires no tools or keys. Ensure the sliding bolt is fitted high enough so that children cannot easily reach it and accidentally lock themselves in (or others out). Use the deadbolt only on those occasions when you are certain the house is empty.
Further information and advice can be found on the US Fire Administration
Locksmith West Hollywood (323) 306-5221