What are Egress Window Covers?

B. Turner

Egress window covers are installed over window wells in basements and other below-grade living spaces. Many building codes require emergency egress windows in these rooms so occupants have multiple escape paths in the event of an emergency. These windows are often installed so that part of the window is above ground and the remaining section is underground. To ensure occupants can pass through the window safely and quickly, the area around the window is built out to form a well.

Homeowners use egress window covers to protect the egress well from pests and debris.
Homeowners use egress window covers to protect the egress well from pests and debris.

Homeowners use egress window covers to protect the well area and the window from pests or debris. These covers prevent animals from nesting in the well, and block leaves and trash from accumulating in front of the window. Egress window covers also protect the well from rain and snow, which may reduce the risk of leaks into the home.

These covers also reduce the risk of falls for people walking around the yard or near the home. Many are strong enough to support the weight of a person if he or she accidentally steps into the well area. Egress window covers are also helpful for keeping children or pets from becoming trapped or injured in one of these wells.

Some egress window covers are designed to fit a specific type of window well while others can be used with different well designs. Buyers can choose from plastic bubble-type covers, or flat hinged plates or grates. Basement window covers should be chosen carefully to blend in with the surrounding decor, which helps to create a more pleasing appearance for the home.

When selecting an egress window cover, it's important to size the cover to fit the window and well area. The edges of the cover should extend slightly beyond the perimeter of the well, and should fit over the entire window, including frame. A cover that's too small may prevent or slow egress during an emergency.

Buyers should also find a cover that matches their window wells in terms of shape. Some are square or rectangular while others are rounded or U-shaped. If the cover is the wrong shape for the well, it may not be effective at preventing leaks, debris accumulation, or falls. Homeowners should test these covers to ensure they are light enough for all family members to lift or remove in the event of any emergency. The covers must also be easy to operate, with no complex locking mechanisms to slow egress.

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