DIY

Low-Cost Fire Escape Ladders

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ILLUSTRATION: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
The author made his fire escape ladders from dowel rods, heavy steel wire, and chains.

When I first moved my family to Poverty Flat, Arizona, we
had to convert the attic of our small house into two little
rooms for our children. After flooring and insulating the
area, however, I realized that the stairway provided the
only exit from either of the cubicles. Which meant
that–should we have a fire–an alternate escape
route might well be needed.

At first I put together a simple drop ladder from
clothesline wire, but it was difficult to climb and
tended to tangle when used. However, my new fire escape ladders
(there’s one outside of each bedroom, accessible by means
of a hinged window) are constructed from lengths of 1 1/2″
dowel, chain, and heavy steel wire. They can be hung under
the house’s eaves when not in use and dropped in half a
second even by a sleepy youngster working in pitch
darkness!

And I haven’t had any trouble getting the children to
practice using their escape routes, either. In
fact–even after three years “fire drill” is among
their favorite games!