Condition: Window frames, sills and sashes should be monitored because the interior condition and hardware of windows change over time. Frame materials can include plastic, aluminum, steel, wood, plastic-clad wood, and metal-clad (steel or aluminum) wood. Window types include double-hung, single-hung, casement, horizontal sliding, projected out or awning, projected in, and fixed. In addition to these, there are jalousies, which are glass louvers on an aluminum or steel frame.
At older sashes, the glazing compound or putty around the glass panels should be monitored carefully, since this is a vulnerable part of the window, and its repair is time-consuming. Check the panels in steel or aluminum sashes for signs of deterioration, such as hardened sealant. Check metal sashes for weep holes that have been blocked by paint, sealant, or dirt. Weep holes are typically easy to clean. Storm windows and doors should be monitored for operation, weathertightness, overall condition, and fit.
Weatherstripping: Window and door weatherstripping is one of three types: metal; foam plastic; or plastic stripping. Each type should have a good fit. Check the metal for dents, bends, and straightness. Check foam plastic for resiliency, and plastic stripping for brittleness and cracks. Make sure the weatherstripping is securely held in place.
Shutters & Awnings: Periodically check the shutters’ operation, observe their condition, and fit. Shutters close to the ground can be examined from the ground. Shutters out of reach from the ground should be examined from inside the house.
Monitor the condition of your awnings. The attachment to the exterior wall can become loose. Oftentimes, an attachment device in the mortar joint of a brick wall can be easily pulled or slid outward. Some windows and glazed exterior doors have awnings over them for decoration, sun control, and protection from the weather.
Egress Windows for Fire Safety
Egress: Basements and every sleeping room should have at least one operable emergency escape and rescue opening that opens directly onto a public street, public alley, yard, or court. This standard is required because many deaths and injuries happen when occupants are asleep at the time of a house fire and the normal means of escape (through doors) are typically blocked.
The sill height of the emergency escape and rescue opening should not be more than forty-four inches above the floor. If the window has a sill height below ground level, a window well should be provided. The window well should have a horizontal area of at least nine square feet, with a minimum horizontal projection and width of thirty-six inches (except for a ladder encroachment into the required dimension). If an emergency escape window is located under a porch or deck, the porch or deck should allow the window to be fully opened and the escape path should be at least three feet high.
You can’t be prepared to act in an emergency if you don’t have a plan and everybody knows what that plan is. Panic and fear can spread as quickly as a fire, so map out an escape route and a meeting place outdoors and involve even the youngest family members so that everyone can work as a unit to make a safe escape.