What does egress mean for windows? What are the egress rules in Manitoba?

What Are Egress Windows?

egress rules in Manitoba

In the world of home design and safety, egress windows are a crucial element often overlooked by homeowners. But what exactly are egress windows, and why should they matter to you and your family? Egress windows are specialized windows specifically designed for emergency exits in residential buildings. These windows serve as a vital means of escape during emergencies, such as fires or other life-threatening situations. 

Where are egress windows installed generally?

Egress windows are typically installed in specific locations within a home to ensure that they serve their primary purpose, which is to provide a safe means of escape in case of an emergency, such as a fire.

Here are the general areas where egress windows are commonly installed:

Basement Egress Windows

Basements are often the most critical areas for egress window installation because they are typically below ground level and may lack alternative exit points. Egress windows in basements provide an essential escape route in case of emergencies.


Egress windows are commonly installed in bedrooms, especially in below-ground or partially below-ground bedrooms. This ensures that occupants have a safe exit option from their sleeping quarters.

Living Areas

Some homes may have egress windows in living rooms or family rooms, especially if these rooms are used for sleeping or have no other means of egress.

Home Offices or Den Spaces

In homes where spaces like home offices or dens are used as bedrooms or potential sleeping areas, egress windows may be installed to meet safety requirements.

Finished Attics or Lofts

If an attic or loft space is converted into a living area or a bedroom, egress windows may be installed to comply with safety codes.

It’s important to note that the specific requirements for egress window installation can vary depending on local building codes and regulations. 

These regulations typically specify the minimum size, location, and accessibility of egress windows to ensure that they effectively provide a means of escape during emergencies. 

Therefore, we would suggest consulting your local building codes or a professional contractor to determine the precise requirements for your area when considering egress window installation.

Why egress windows are crucial for homes?

Egress windows are crucial for homes for many important reasons, and understanding their importance is essential for ensuring the safety and well-being of everyone living in a residential space. 

Here are some key reasons why egress windows are so critical:

Emergency Escape Route

One of the primary purposes of egress windows is to provide a safe and easy way for occupants to exit the building in case of an emergency, such as a fire or natural disaster. In such situations, conventional exits like doors may become inaccessible or blocked, making windows a vital alternative escape route.

Life-Saving Potential

Egress windows can be lifesavers. According to statistics and real-life stories, many people owe their lives to these windows. They offer a means of escape when all other avenues are cut off, ensuring that occupants can quickly exit the building and reach safety.

Building Code Compliance

Many building codes and regulations mandate the installation of egress windows in certain parts of a residential structure, such as bedrooms or basement living areas. Compliance with these codes is essential to ensure the safety and legality of the property.

Daylight and Ventilation

Egress windows also serve a dual purpose by allowing natural light and fresh air into basement or lower-level spaces. This not only enhances the overall comfort of these areas but can also contribute to energy efficiency by reducing the need for artificial lighting and mechanical ventilation.

Property Value and Marketability

Homes equipped with properly installed egress windows tend to have higher resale values and are more attractive to potential buyers. These windows indicate that the home was constructed with safety in mind, which is a significant selling point.

Legal Liability

Without egress windows, homeowners may face legal liability issues if an accident or emergency occurs in their property, and they fail to provide adequate escape routes as required by building codes.

Peace of Mind

Egress windows offer peace of mind to homeowners and occupants. Knowing that there is a readily accessible means of escape can reduce anxiety and increase confidence in emergency situations.

Insurance Considerations

Some insurance policies may require or offer discounts for homes that have egress windows, as they are seen as a proactive safety measure.

What this manifests is that egress windows are not just a recommended feature; they are a critical safety requirement for homes. They provide an essential means of escape during emergencies, ensure compliance with building codes, enhance property value, and contribute to overall peace of mind for homeowners and residents. Installing and maintaining egress windows is a responsible and life-saving investment in any home.

Legal requirements for egress windows in residential buildings in Canada

Legal requirements for egress windows for buildings in Canada

Legal requirements for egress windows in Canadian residential buildings are crucial for ensuring the safety and well-being of occupants. These requirements are typically put in place by local building codes and regulations, which vary from one jurisdiction to another. 

Let’s discuss the common elements that are often found in these regulations, shall we?

Minimum Opening Size

Egress windows must have a minimum clear opening width and height. Common minimum dimensions are 20 inches in width, 24 inches in height, and at least 5.7 square feet of clear opening space.

Minimum Clear Opening Height from the Floor

There is usually a requirement for how high above the floor the bottom of the egress window should be. This ensures that it’s easily accessible in case of an emergency. The common height requirement is 44 inches from the finished floor to the clear opening.

Window Well Requirements

If the egress window is located in a window well, there are specific requirements for the dimensions of the well. These dimensions typically include a minimum width and depth to allow for easy exit and rescue access.

Latching Mechanisms

Egress windows should be designed with latching mechanisms that are easy to operate from the inside without the use of keys, tools, or special knowledge. The idea is to make it simple for anyone, including children or the elderly, to open the window in an emergency.

Escape and Rescue Opening

Some codes may require egress windows to have a specific design that allows for escape and rescue operations from the exterior of the building, such as providing enough space for a firefighter with full gear to enter.

Documentation and Permits

Homeowners are typically required to obtain the necessary permits and inspections to ensure that egress windows meet local building codes. Failure to comply with these requirements can lead to fines and delays in the construction process.

Tip for homeowners:

It’s crucial for homeowners and builders to be aware of and comply with these legal requirements for egress windows in residential buildings. 

Non-compliance can not only lead to legal issues but, more importantly, can put the safety of occupants at risk. 

As already mentioned above, consulting with local building authorities or a licensed contractor is a wise thing to consider, and in this case, finding someone who is knowledgeable about local building codes would be essential when planning and installing egress windows.

Common misconceptions about egress windows

Let’s debunk some of the common misconceptions surrounding egress windows to provide you with a clearer understanding of their importance and functionality.

Misconception 1: Egress Windows Are Only Necessary in Basements

It’s a common belief that egress windows are exclusively required in basements. While basements are indeed a crucial area for egress windows, they are also necessary on all habitable levels of your home, including bedrooms and living spaces on higher floors.

Egress windows are not limited to the basement. They should be installed in all habitable spaces, including bedrooms, on any floor that’s not at ground level. Their purpose is to provide a safe exit route in case of emergencies.

Misconception 2: Egress windows are just large windows

While egress windows are larger than typical windows, their size and specifications are regulated by local building codes. They must meet specific size requirements to ensure easy exit and entry during an emergency.

Misconception 3: Egress windows are only necessary for new construction

Simply not true. Egress windows may also be required when remodeling or finishing a basement or attic to create a new bedroom or living space. It’s important to check local building codes and regulations when making such changes.

Misconception4: Egress windows are primarily for fire emergencies

Egress windows serve multiple purposes, including providing a safe exit during fires, but also during other emergencies like natural disasters, home invasions, or medical emergencies.

Misconception 5: Egress windows compromise energy efficiency

Good concern! Egress windows have come a long way in terms of energy efficiency. Modern designs and materials help prevent drafts and heat loss. 

So, they won’t necessarily make your home less energy-efficient. Plus, you can look for energy-efficient options when installing egress windows to ensure you’re not sacrificing comfort for safety.

Modern egress windows are designed with energy efficiency in mind. They come with double or triple glazing and thermal insulation to minimize heat loss. Properly installed egress windows can enhance your home’s energy efficiency. 

Misconception 6: I can install egress windows myself to save some bucks

Well, you can, but it’s not exactly a DIY weekend project. Installing egress windows involves digging and structural changes, which can be quite complex and require permits. 

Plus, you’ll want it to meet local building codes for safety. It’s usually best to hire a professional to ensure it’s done correctly and safely. Your safety is worth the investment!

Misconception 7: Egress windows only come in one style

Nope, egress windows come in various styles to match your home’s aesthetics and your personal preferences. You can find casement, slider, or even hopper style egress windows. So, you can choose the one that fits your home’s look and your needs. It’s like picking out your favorite flavor of ice cream!

So, having egress windows is all about safety, right?

Absolutely! At the core, egress windows are all about keeping you and your loved ones safe. They provide a quick escape route when you need it most. 

So, while they do come in different styles and designs, safety is always the top priority. Think of them as your home’s emergency exits, there to protect you when it matters most.

We hope this helps clarify some common misconceptions about egress windows. Remember, when it comes to your family’s safety, it’s always best to prioritize that over any other concerns!

Where should you install egress windows?

Let’s talk about where you should put those egress windows in your home. They’re super important for safety, and you want them in the right spots, right? So, here we go:

Bedrooms: You definitely want an egress window in every bedroom. Imagine a fire or an emergency – you want a quick and easy way out, right from your own room. It’s all about keeping you and your loved ones safe.

Basement: The basement – often overlooked, but it’s crucial to have an egress window down there. In case of flooding or other emergencies, it’s your ticket to safety.

Living Spaces: If you have a living room, family room, or any other space where your family hangs out a lot, it’s smart to have an egress window there too. Emergencies can happen anywhere, so it’s good to be prepared.

Hallways: Sometimes, hallways can be a safe exit route if other routes are blocked. Having an egress window in the hallway can be a lifesaver.

Stairwells: If your home has multiple floors with stairs, consider putting egress windows near the stairs. They can provide an escape route if the stairs become blocked.

Remember, it’s not just about checking off boxes; it’s about keeping you safe and sound. So, make sure your home has egress windows in these key spots, and you’ll have peace of mind knowing you’re well-prepared for any situation.

What are the egress codes or rules in Manitoba?

Egress rules in Manitoba are all about ensuring safety in homes, especially in case of emergencies like fires. They’re pretty important!

Here’s the deal. In Manitoba, every bedroom or sleeping area in a house must have at least one window that can be used as an emergency exit. This window is often referred to as an “egress window.”

That makes sense, yes?. 

So, what are the requirements for an egress window?

Well, an egress window needs to have a few key features:

  • Size: It has to be big enough for a person to easily climb through. In Manitoba, that means it should have a minimum opening width of 20 inches, a minimum opening height of 24 inches, and a total clear opening area of at least 5.7 square feet.
  • Access: You shouldn’t need any special tools to open it. It should be easily operable without keys or tools.
  • Location: The bottom of the egress window should be no more than 44 inches above the finished floor.

What about the window wells?

Good question! If your egress window is below ground level, you’ll need a window well. The well should allow enough space for a person to climb out easily. And it should have a ladder or steps if it’s deeper than 600 millimeters (about 2 feet).

Canadian window egress requirements in general

The National Building Code of Canada (NBC) 2020 is a rulebook developed by the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes, published by the National Research Council of Canada. 

It tells us how to design and build new buildings and what to do if we want to change or tear down old ones. It’s like a guide for making sure buildings are safe and well-made.Egress requirements for windows in Canada are all about ensuring safety in homes, especially during emergencies like fires. In Canada, generally,  egress requirements are quite similar to those in Manitoba. Here are the key details on the Canada building code:

Size: An egress window needs to have a minimum opening width of 15 inches, a minimum opening height of 15 inches, and a total clear opening area of at least 3.77 square feet. It should be big enough for someone to easily climb through.

Access: Just like in Manitoba, an egress window should be easy to open without any special tools. You should be able to operate it without needing keys or tools.

Location: The bottom of the egress window should be no more than 1,000 millimeters (about 3.28 feet) above the finished floor.


We hope this deep dive into egress windows has been eye-opening for you, just as it was for us when I first learned about them. As we wrap things up, we want to leave you with a simple yet crucial message: take action if your home isn’t equipped with egress windows.

Imagine this: It’s a peaceful evening, you’re in your cozy home, and suddenly, an emergency strikes. Having a properly installed egress window can be a lifesaver. It’s like having a superhero at your service, ready to whisk you and your loved ones to safety when you need it most.

Your home should be your haven, and with the right egress windows, it can be just that – a place where you and your loved ones are protected, no matter what comes your way.