We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.
In case of a fire in your home, a fire escape ladder can be a life-saver if the regular exit routes are blocked.
We researched the top fire escape ladders available online, evaluating sturdiness, stability, and ease of use and storage. Our best overall pick, the First Alert Two-Story Fire Escape Ladder, is long enough to use from a second story, has a weight load of over 1,100 pounds, and features anti-slip rungs.
Here are the best fire escape ladders.
Best Overall: FIRST ALERT Two-Story Fire Escape Ladder
Who else recommends it? Bob Vila and BestReviews also picked the First Alert Two-Story Fire Escape Ladder.
What do buyers say? 92% of 2,900+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.
The First Alert Two-Story Fire Escape Ladder comes fully assembled and folds down for easy storage in a closet or under your bed. The 14-foot ladder is made of nylon strapping for increased stability and has sturdy, steel, and anti-slip rungs. It can hold up to 375 pounds at a time and fits a standard window sill between 6 and 10 inches wide.
Practicing an at-home fire drill probably isn’t at the top of your list of fun things to do on the weekend, but when you consider that seven people die and an additional 36 people are injured in home fires each day as reported by the American Red Cross, you’ll understand why you must to make time for them. “Having a home fire escape plan and practicing it twice a year with everyone is one of the most important steps you can take to keep your household safe,” says Steve Jensen of the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council.
“Fire escape ladders may be necessary to provide two ways to exit every room in a multi-story home should a fire block the main stairs,” Jensen says. “Because of this, fire ladders must be accessible and easy to use.”
Best Portable: Kidde L-2S Two-Story Fire Escape Ladder
“The most important aspect is that everyone in the household should participate in these decisions and be confident with their use,” Jensen says. This ladder weighs in at under 8 pounds, which is light enough that just about everyone in your family—from the very young to the very old—should be able to lift it. That’s important as Jensen notes that “everyone who lives in the home and is physically capable should be confident about using the ladder.”
The ladder deploys immediately once it’s hooked in place over a windowsill and it features anti-slip, zinc-plated steel rungs that are one-foot wide. Each ladder can support up to 1,000 pounds at a time. One word of caution: This ladder can only be used once, so when you’re practicing those fire drills, you’ll have to simulate climbing down it.
Best With Carabiners: ISOP 16ft Fire Escape Ladder
“Portable ladders with carabiners attach to secure anchor points such as eye bolts inside the home below the window,” explains Jensen. Because of this, these are the best fire escape ladders for anyone with large windowsills or windowsills with a trim that make it challenging to use the hook-style fire ladders.
This ladder is made of thick rope and can hold up to 2,000 pounds at one time. You’ll need to buy the hooks separately and install them onto the side of your home before using this ladder. You’ll also want to practice attaching the carabiners to them, so should disaster strike, you (and everyone in your family) will know how to readily attach them. Live in an apartment? You can buy two or three of these ladders and attach them to each other via the carabiners for a safe emergency escape over 16 feet.
Best Permanent: Warner 2-Story Built-In Fire Escape Ladder
“Fire moves fast, and experts agree that you may have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home before it’s too late to get out,” Jensen says. If you have any concerns that you or any members of your family would be able to lift and carry one in an emergency, the best fire escape ladder for your family is one that's built into your home. This one stores in the wall under the window inside your home where it will stay until it’s called into action.
The self-deploying ladder is made of a combo of aluminum and nylon, which makes it as lightweight as it is durable. It has 12 rungs and can handle a total of 1,200 pounds at a time. Note that you’ll need to cut out the wall under the window to install this ladder, so depending on your comfort level with drywall, you may need to call in a handyman.
Best 3-Story: x-it products X-IT Emergency Fire Escape Ladder
If your home has a third story, you’ll want a ladder that’s at least 20 feet; while that’s a must, the extra feet can add extra weight. Not so with this X-It ladder. The 23-foot plastic and rope ladder weighs 10 pounds and is so compact then when it’s folded it’s about the size of a shoebox. It comes in a bright yellow storage bag that’s easy to spot in an emergency, plus the directions are printed right on the bag, which can save you precious seconds as you’ll never have to fumble around to find them.
The ladder hangs onto a windowsill from the inside; if you don’t have one, you can hang it off a piece of sturdy furniture or install hooks by the window inside your home. Reviewers note that the ladder is tangle free and easy to repack after a trial run.
Best for Babies and Pets: ISOP Fire Evacuation Device for Kids or Pets
Parents of babies (both the human and the fur variety) may wonder how they would carry their child to safety in the event of a fire. That’s where this fire evacuation device comes in. It works as a backpack or can be used to gently lower down your precious cargo with the included 50-foot rope—plenty long enough for homes with third stories or even fifth floor apartments. (When using this way, place a pillow in first to cushion any accidental falls.)
The device holds up to 75 pounds and one reviewer notes it’s large enough for a German shepherd in an emergency situation (however, this isn’t intended to be used as an everyday dog carrier).
What to Look for When Buying a Fire Escape Ladder
Weight and Capacity
A fire escape ladder is a disaster preparedness tool that should be simple enough and manageable for everyone in your household to use with relative ease and confidence. Be sure to pick a model that is sturdy but lightweight enough so that younger children and older people have the best chance of using it successfully. Check weight limits before you buy to make sure the ladder is sturdy enough for everyone in your house. And verify that the fire escape ladder has enough reach to get you and your family to safety, especially if your house has a third story.
Ease of Use
While permanent fire escape ladders are a fixture on many urban apartment buildings, homeowners are required to buy their own fire escape ladders that will allow them to safely climb down from rooms located on upper stories of their homes in the event that other escape options fail. This is easier said than done. Make sure that you choose a fire escape ladder that is as straightforward to use as possible. Hold a semi-annual practice drill that allows everyone in your home to learn how to hook the ladder to the window, deploy the rungs, and climb down, ideally from a first floor window for safety purposes, so that they know what to do if the worst happens.
It’s important to store your fire escape ladder in an easily accessible location. Choose a temporary fire escape ladder that folds up easily into a small bundle that can be stored in a nearby closet or under the bed. You want to be able to effortlessly grab and deploy it in an emergency, when every second counts.
How many fire escape ladders do I need?
That depends on the size and layout of your house, in particular how many rooms are located above the ground floor. To be safe, upper story bedrooms should have dedicated fire escape ladders allowing each person to escape safely in the event of a fire. Ladders should be adapted to the ages and sizes of the people who live in each room, and stored in an easily accessible location.
How much does a fire escape ladder cost?
Fire escape ladders come in varying models, sizes, and price points. Lightweight portable fire escape ladders start at under $40. There are many well rated models in the $100-200 range, with prices running into the hundreds and higher depending on the make and manufacturer.
How much weight can a fire escape ladder hold?
Fire escape ladders are designed to be sturdy enough to hold more weight than they will have to bear. A fire escape ladder weight limit will usually begin at 500 pounds, while a ladder designed to accommodate more than one person may have a weight limit of 1,000 pounds. Always check weight limit specifications before buying a fire escape ladder, which vary according to the manufacturer and model.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This roundup was edited by Anne Fritz, who has edited home safety product stories for The Spruce. She fondly remembers her parents running at-home fire drills complete with a fire escape ladder when she was a child. Today, she uses the First Alert Two-Story Fire Escape Ladder (our pick for Best Overall) as insurance that she’s keeping her own family safe.
For this piece, we interviewed Steve Jensen of the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council for background information on what to look for when buying a fire escape ladder, what to know when using a ladder, and best practices for using your fire escape ladder.