What is Egress?


/ēˌgres/Noun: The action of going out of or leaving a place.

The National Building Code 2010 has numerous references to egress in the different sections that refer to different building types. In this article, we will be specifically addressing the requirements for Part 9 of the National Building Code, Housing and Small Buildings and in particular Section 9.9.10. Egress from Bedrooms.

What does the Code say?

The specific requirements are as follows: Egress Windows or Doors for Bedrooms

  • Except where the suite is sprinklered, each bedroom or combination bedroom shall have at least one outside window or exterior door operable from the inside without the use of keys, tools or special knowledge and without the removal of sashes or hardware.
  • The window referred to in Sentence (1) shall
    1. provide and unobstructed opening of not less than 0.35 m² in area with no dimension less than 380 mm, and
    2. maintain the required opening during an emergency without the need for additional support.
      A- Bedroom Window Opening Areas and Dimensions. Although the minimum opening dimensions required for height and width are 380 mm, a window opening that is 380 mm by 380 mm would not comply with the minimum area requirements. (See Figure A- Diagram 1

      Figure A- Window opening areas and dimensions

  • Where a window required in Sentence (1) opens into a window well, a clearance of not less than 760 mm shall be provided in front of the window.
  • Where the sash of a window referred to in Sentence (3) swings towards the window well, the operation of the sash shall not reduce the clearance in a manner that would restrict escape in an emergency.
  • Where a protective enclosure is installed over the window well referred to in Sentence (3), the enclosure shall be openable from the inside without the use of keys, tools or special knowledge of the opening mechanism. Diagram 1

    Figure A- Windows providing a means of escape that open into a window well

Does the Code vary by province?

Yes. The National Building Code of Canada is a model code that represents the minimum requirements for construction. It provides a basis for those provinces and municipalities that issue their own codes. Provinces and municipalities (jurisdictions having authority) may set their own requirements. It is imperative that you check with your local JELD-WEN dealer or the jurisdiction having authority where your project will be constructed. Consulting with your local authority or JELD-WEN dealer will ensure your project is compliant with code and provide your home with years of safe operation.

Ok, so what windows can I use?

Each window style has a minimum required measurement in order to meet egress. Certain styles, such as awning windows, cannot be placed in bedrooms without there being a secondary exit in the bedroom, because the operating arm does not allow for a large enough opening for a human exit, in case of emergency. The minimum size required varies greatly between window styles, so it’s best to seek the advice of your local JELD-WEN dealer.

Again, these are guidelines only, and the most up-to-date information for your jurisdiction can be found through your local JELD-WEN dealer or sales representative.

Reference: National Building Code of Canada 2010, Volume 1 & 2, Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes, National Research Council of Canada, Thirteenth Edition 2010, NRCC 53301, Second printing.


This information is a guideline only and not to be taken as fact. Many variables such as location, new-build/remodel or the type of windows used may impact the necessary steps required to achieve egress. As such, JELD-WEN Canada cannot be held responsible for any loss, physical, monetary or otherwise resulting from the use of this information.

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