While there are countless privileges to being a homeowner, homeownership undoubtedly comes with some serious responsibility. Whether it’s basic plumbing or safety precautions, many tasks that would be done by a landlord fall under your purview. That includes fire safety. For example, you should make sure you have a fire extinguisher that everyone in the house knows the location of. And if you live in a multi-story home, a fire escape ladder is another essential asset for a fire-safe home.
While you could reasonably crawl out of the window or head out the door in a single-story home, there may not be enough time or a safe way out down your main stairs, and the second story may very well be too high to jump, especially for a child. That’s why a fire escape ladder for your home is an important addition to your safety kit.
A fire escape ladder for your home shouldn’t be confused with the iron structures you’d see outside an old brick building in New York. Rather, these have more in common with rope ladders, in that they roll up to a compact size. The difference between a designated fire safety ladder and a rope ladder is that a fire escape ladder is designed to be quickly deployed without tangling, and they’re made to be stable to stand on for a safe and quick descent. Fire escape ladders also have hooks that secure to your window so you can more quickly deploy them.
We’ve rounded up some of the best fire escape ladders and broken down some of the key differences between them. The options below are for two-story buildings, so you can compare them by price. All of the manufacturers below make options for taller buildings as well.
1. X-IT 2 Story Emergency Fire Escape Ladder
This fire escape ladder from X-It is designed for two-story buildings, but you can also find options from this listing for ladders that are up to six stories high. The two-story option is 13 feet when deployed, but it folds down to an easy-to-store size. The curved hooks are designed to attach to any window. Plus, the case that holds the ladder has the directions directly printed on the case so no time will be wasted making sure you know how to use it. This ladder can be safely rolled up after use, so you can run safety drills with it before having to ever actually use it.
Pros: Can be reused. Stores in a small bag that won’t take up much space. Rung design prevents twists and tangles.
2. First Alert Two-Story Fire Escape Ladder
First Alert is a trusted brand for fire safety, having introduced the first fire alarm for home use. This particular option is designed for two-story buildings and is 14 feet when unrolled. The rungs are made from steel with durable Cordura nylon straps. Like the other options, this ladder is designed to hook onto the edge of the windowsill. When folded up, the ladder won’t take up too much space, and a convenient Velcro strap holds the rungs in place. This strap is printed with usage instructions. The hooks and rungs have endcaps to minimize damage to the building structure.
Pros: Sturdy steel option from a trusted fire safety brand. Folds up to a relatively compact size and has a strap to hold the rungs in place.
Cons: Can be hard to fold up once deployed. At 12 pounds, this option is heavier than the 5-pound X-it and the 7 -pound Kidde.
3. Kidde Two-Story Fire Escape Ladder
Kidde is a fire safety brand with a storied history, having over 100 years of experience making everything from fire detectors to the first portable carbon dioxide fire extinguisher. This fire escape ladder is available in either 13-foot or 25-foot varieties. This option is designed to deploy very quickly. Simply mount it to the window and release the clasp, and the rungs will drop to the ground. The big catch with the Kidde is that it’s intended for single-use. They advise that it will not be safe to use once rolled back up, eliminating the ability to practice with it unless you buy another one.
Pros: Affordable option that deploys quickly. Rungs designed to resist slippage.
Cons: Designed for one-time use.