What does Egress Mean?

Posted on April 18, 2012 | in News, Thoughts | by

The English language is a funny thing. For the most part it’s constantly changing, evolving and developing. Then, sometimes, you’ll find a word so old people have practically forgotten where it’s come from.

For example, according to signs in railroad stations, you still “alight” from a train – even though most people think “alight” means setting something on fire.

Another commonly confused word is “egress.” Ask most people what the definition of egress is and they’ll generally answer “a type of bird.” (That’s actually an egret.)

Egress is another word for “exit”, and is used in building code to refer to the means by which somebody can exit a building. For example, a fire escape is defined as a “means of egress” because that’s how somebody can get out of a building if there was an emergency. Most states and townships have building code that requires means of egress on each floor; sometimes including a finished basement.

A basement emergency exit normally comes in the form of egress windows. These are large windows that can be opened up to allow people in the basement to easily get out – and allow firefighters in. Because many house fires begin in the basement, laws in almost every part of the country require these windows in finished basement bedrooms; and you can face serious fines and penalties if they’re not installed to code.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that the installation is a straightforward job – and a fantastic investment. Adding an egress window allows homeowners to use their finished basement as a bedroom; and most will recoup 20 or 30 times the money they invested when it comes time to sell their home.

Not only that, these types of windows add a great source of natural light, the means to circulate air around a potentially stuffy part of the house and, of course, added peace of mind.

That means for most homeowners, the only definition of “egress” they’re interested in is the one which defines it as “a smart idea.”

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One Response to “What does Egress Mean?”

  1. Mickey Ryan says:

    Thanks for this explanation. I’ve got an Oxford dictionary and believe it or not the word does not surface.

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Hi, I'm Jeff. I will be using this space to share my thoughts and opinions that I have accumulated over many years in the building industry. My hope is to also teach and inspire.

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Jeff Ommundsen
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President of Shop Egress Windows, Inc.