Basements are sometimes forgotten in home safety plans. When a house has a basement in Pennsylvania it must meet building requirements of both the state and the International Building Code for One- and Two-Story Dwellings. These requirements include the minimum standards for basement egress and emergency exits.
Basements used for storage require two exit paths when the basement is more than 1,000 square feet. Storage basements less than 1,000 square feet are allowed one exit path. Basements used for occupancy must meet building requirements for occupied rooms where two or more exits are required.
Minimum General Requirements
Build the exits so that any door or window opens to the outside easily. They cannot use keys or tools to open.
Set exit points so that no two points have more than 150 feet of travel space from any point in the basement to the exit. The maximum distance between egress points is 200 feet from each other. Basements used for occupancy require that no areas used for occupancy be greater than 75 feet away from an exit.
Include a minimum opening width of 20 inches with a minimum opening height of 24 inches. The actual opening that a person must pass through has a minimum clear opening of 5.7 square feet. The window sill can be no more than 44 inches from the floor.
Add sprinkler systems to increase the maximum allowable distances. Maximum travel distance is increased to 200 feet from any point to an exit and 300 feet between exits when a sprinkler system is in place. Maximum distances for single path of use or occupied basements is increased to 100 feet from any point to an exit.