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Old 04-05-2014, 09:44 PM   #1
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Escape through bedroom emergency exit

Last November, the wife and I experienced an episode while camping that put the fear of God in me about coach fires. We had just awakened, and I smelled electrical fumes. Working on Air Force aircraft for 30 years, I immediately turned off all power, terminated the trip, and took the coach in for a look-see at Camping World. They told me that the transfer switch had caught fire and that I narrowly missed having it burn to the ground. They repaired it, and I went out and bought two new dual sensor smoke detectors, and three large fire extinguishers, in addition to the one already installed by the entrance door. I bought an aluminum ladder and placed it outside of the coach, by the bedroom escape, but it doesn't look safe nor effective. I have been looking at alternatives. My wife and I are both 64, and both of us have mobility issues, using canes for walking. I recently found these at Walmart.


Kidde Emergency 2-Story Escape Ladder, 2 Story Fire Escape Ladder, Lightweight Escape Ladder, Window Escape Ladder

Do you guys and girls think the walls of the coach would provide the support necessary for this type of drop down escape ladder? Am interested in any ideas you have in this regard.
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Old 04-05-2014, 09:57 PM   #2
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Yes, I think the wall structure will support this ladder with one adult on it. I've carried one like it in the motorhome for many years now, and thankfully never had to use it in an emergency.

You might think about a prop rod to hold the window open if it hinges at the top.

Fred
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Old 04-05-2014, 10:10 PM   #3
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I think it depends how agile your wife and you are. Rope ladders are difficult to navigate but if you have enough motivation you can do almost anything.

Walls should be no problem.

My wife is mobility challenged and I think she would have trouble with any type of ladder. I expect I will have to exit and help her to the ground. That said I hope that never happens.

Safe travels.

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Old 04-05-2014, 10:40 PM   #4
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There's some good info in this thread also:
Escape Window Prop Can Save A Life

At the end of the thread, there is a link to another thread with more info.

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Old 04-06-2014, 02:57 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred Cooper View Post
There's some good info in this thread also:
Escape Window Prop Can Save A Life

At the end of the thread, there is a link to another thread with more info.

Fred
Thank you Fred for referencing my post on escape window props. A simple 3 dollar item can go a long way in helping you escape an RV fire.

I learned a lot from Mac McCoy's RV Fire Safety seminar this past January. On the topic of escape ladders.... Mac stated he has yet to find a ladder, deployed from inside, that is effective. He mentioned a picnic table or other sturdy item, placed ahead of time, under your escape window can help reduce the drop to the ground.

It can be lifesaving to think about and/or practice an escapee. Keep in mind, Mac the Fireguy said, best case you have 40 seconds after an alarm sounds before flames, smoke, or toxic fumes will take your life.

At our seminar in Quartzsite, Mac McCoy said he would teach our group how to escape. Being the guy I am, I volunteered my MH and my wife for the demonstration. I always looked at the small escape window in our bedroom and wondered how in the heck....

Mac McCoy instructed prop the hinged window open. Lay a heavy blanket across the bottom of the window frame to reduce abrasion (he said leaving part of your body on the window frame). Try to go out feet first. If you do go out head first, you will probably break both arms upon landing or worse, but you will be out of the inferno.

These are a few pics of my wife "escaping" out the bedroom window of our Mountain Aire MH. I am proud of her for demonstrating. She was unhurt, but had the luxury of a few guys to lessen the drop to the ground. You can see Mac McCoy inside the MH in the last pic.

I would encourage every RVer to attend on of the Mac the Fireguy's seminars. It is shocking to learn how manufacturers equip our rigs with detectors, and extinguishers because they are cheap, not the most effective. Actually seeing/practicing with an extinguisher is invaluable. Of course, seeing/practicing an escape can make the difference later on in a true emergency. Mac's seminar is 2+ hours we all owe to ourselves and our loved ones.
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Old 04-06-2014, 04:35 AM   #6
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Followed the link to Walmart and read testimonials on several escape ladders. One point mentioned multiple times and something I think is critical, is being able to practice the escape, especially for children.

Then reading the details on this specific ladder ... it is a SINGLE USE ONLY! So you can't test it or practice or get the kids/grandkids used to it. Walmart had several other brands available which would allow practice drills.
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Old 04-06-2014, 05:47 AM   #7
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I believe the ladder would be more then adequate to support the escape attempt and the sidewalls would hold it. My fear would be fitting thru the escape window. I'm 6'-3" and weigh 225lbs and don't consider myself obese but at looking at the window we would have to exit I really have to scratch my head and wonder just how easy it would be getting out. Personally I think a little more thought should be put into these rigs to address this type of issue.
Friends of ours lost there coach last year to a fire. Fortunately the wife was in the living area and when the fire broke out was able to get her husband up and they exited the front door with no problem but that may not always be the case.
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Old 04-06-2014, 07:37 AM   #8
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The scary words in this thread are "hope", "try" and "attempt", implying that the success of the escape is in question. If you have any doubt that you can do it quickly, then practice, practice, practice. You really do not have time to figure it out with smoke billowing around you and your family.

An escape hatch that extends to the floor would be much more practical. One with the hinges on the side or bottom would also make more sense. In the photos above, it looks like dislodging or breaking the stick is a real possibility. Unfortunately, the manufacturers have taken a "close enough" approach justified by "because we've always done it this way".

If you have mobility issues and are ordering a new coach, you should seriously consider sitting down with the manufacturer and discussing design options. Force them to think outside the box. Consider what the rear emergency exit on a school bus looks like. You may very well create a new standard for all coaches.

A rope attached above the window and folded neatly out of sight on top of the valance gives you a handle to work with to avoid falling out of the window.
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Old 04-06-2014, 07:45 AM   #9
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On our coach the roof ladder is close enough to the emergency window that we can step out onto the ladder and get down. I agree with the previous post, it would not be too hard for the manufacturer to build in a door which includes the window, and is hinged at the side like a school bus exit.
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Old 04-06-2014, 02:00 PM   #10
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This is my experience with escape ladders!

Escape ladders aren't for fat folks!
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Old 04-06-2014, 03:24 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TwelveVolt View Post
The scary words in this thread are "hope", "try" and "attempt", implying that the success of the escape is in question. If you have any doubt that you can do it quickly, then practice, practice, practice. You really do not have time to figure it out with smoke billowing around you and your family.

An escape hatch that extends to the floor would be much more practical. One with the hinges on the side or bottom would also make more sense. In the photos above, it looks like dislodging or breaking the stick is a real possibility. Unfortunately, the manufacturers have taken a "close enough" approach justified by "because we've always done it this way".

If you have mobility issues and are ordering a new coach, you should seriously consider sitting down with the manufacturer and discussing design options. Force them to think outside the box. Consider what the rear emergency exit on a school bus looks like. You may very well create a new standard for all coaches.

A rope attached above the window and folded neatly out of sight on top of the valance gives you a handle to work with to avoid falling out of the window.
I agree that the motorhome industry should be looking harder at safety and escape routes. Most travel trailers have TWO doors...one at the front and one at the back. Why not motorhomes?? I'd be willing to pay the additional cost for such an exit.

Our windows slide to open, so we don't have to worry about the prop bar. However it is still a long way to the ground!
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Old 04-06-2014, 05:33 PM   #12
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Then reading the details on this specific ladder ... it is a SINGLE USE ONLY! So you can't test it or practice or get the kids/grandkids used to it. Walmart had several other brands available which would allow practice drills.
The instructions from Kidde, the manufacturer, do not say that you cannot deploy to practice or that it is for one use only. Walmart says that and I would bet this is a statement from their legal department. Again, refer to the manufacturer's instructions. I would obviously not want to reuse it if it has been used in a fire and agree in that case. However, there is no reason why you can't practice, refold as it was and stow for an emergency.

Regarding the post stating that Mac the Fire Guy thinks an escape ladder is not effective, I'm not sure about that. I can't see how the recommendation stated: "...a picnic table or other sturdy item, placed ahead of time, under your escape window..." is even a practical recommendation over having a device in your camper 100% of the time that will aid in escape. Really?
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Old 04-06-2014, 05:38 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kathryn View Post
Followed the link to Walmart and read testimonials on several escape ladders. One point mentioned multiple times and something I think is critical, is being able to practice the escape, especially for children.

Then reading the details on this specific ladder ... it is a SINGLE USE ONLY! So you can't test it or practice or get the kids/grandkids used to it. Walmart had several other brands available which would allow practice drills.

That's definitely a legal issue! There is absolutely no reason the ladders cannot be use repeatedly! They don't want the liability if someone uses the ladder, folds it back up wrong, then it fails to deploy properly when it's needed in an emergency!
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Old 04-06-2014, 05:43 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by MandG-Fun View Post

Regarding the post stating that Mac the Fire Guy thinks an escape ladder is not effective, I'm not sure about that. I can't see how the recommendation stated: "...a picnic table or other sturdy item, placed ahead of time, under your escape window..." is even a practical recommendation over having a device in your camper 100% of the time that will aid in escape. Really?
I am paraphrasing Mac's words, January 2014, here. He stated he has not found a portable ladder, deployed from inside, that he thought was effective. Yes there are portable ladders. The logistics of using them and the time involved are not conducive to an effective escape. A window prop and a heavy blanket are what he recommended to save your life. (note .... having two window props are recommended as in a panic you may drop one out the window)

I hope my other previous words and pics may help others, as opposed to being critiqued.
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