By Juan Jimenez
In a prior life, when I worked on aircraft, we used to say that the maintenance manuals were written in blood. In my opinion, this applies to many building codes as well.
Building codes reflect decades of experience and are written to prevent repeat incidents of damage, injury, or even death.
During a routine home inspection in Richmond, Virginia, we found this fire safety hazard. Notice the double-keyed deadbolt lock. A double-keyed deadbolt requires a key from the inside to operate.
Why do people install double-key deadbolts?
Why did the homeowners do this? Some homeowners I meet during home inspections mistakenly believe that this is a safety upgrade.
If a burglar wants to break into your house, they will find a way. It is more prudent to consider the danger involved.
What’s the danger with double-keyed deadbolt locks?
The danger here is that during a fire, occupants will be panicked, hurried and may not be able to find or operate the key. Perhaps they know where the key is, but the fire has blocked access to it.
Building code is quite clear on this issue. All means of egress (ways to get out of the house), such as windows and doors, must be operable from the inside without the use of special knowledge or tools. This is not an arbitrary code, or a code designed to make manufacturers money. This code is written in blood.
What is the solution?
Some articles I have read state if you the double-keyed lock already, to just leave the key in it, or close by. I disagree wholeheartedly.
Remove the lock and install an appropriate one, install decorative grills on small window planes, or redesign the area to not include windows. Nothing is worth more than your family’s safety.