By F.N. Rosenstock
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Copyright 2006 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
One of the great things about attending a trade show is the equal playing field it creates for products. There's an opportunity for small companies with only one product to attract attention that otherwise might elude them.
At the recent Southern Building Show, one such company, Georgia-based Pearl Protected, was turning heads. Its permanent escape and rescue ladder, called Pearl, provides a solution for homeowners who have wondered: How do you get out of the house from the second floor if there's a fire?
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David Duley of Pearl Protected says this is a "logical product that closes the gap in residential fire safety." The patented escape ladder comes in a self-contained unit designed for easy retrofitting or for use in new construction. "It fits between the studs," Duley says. "Think of it as a medicine cabinet with a ladder in it."
Pearl was engineered in a way that makes it able to support the weight of firefighters rescuing people and carrying equipment as well as for a family climbing down the ladder together. "Each rung can sustain up to 500 pounds," explains Duley, "and the ladder can hold up to 1,500 pounds."
The ladder's manual comes with installation instructions and suggestions for fire escape drills. Parents should practice escaping with their children, says Duley, who notes that youngsters sometimes are tucked inside the shirt or jacket of a parent climbing down a ladder. "The most important thing is to have whatever is needed easily available in case of emergency." Deciding when a child is able to climb down independently can be hard to determine, he said.
Pearl already has won several awards, said Duley, including the Product Innovation for Consumer Safety Award from the Home Safety Council and Builder magazine's MVP Product Award for the Building Industry.
The ladder, with a suggested retail price of $429, can be ordered from the company's Web site. The company suggests putting a Pearl on each side of every stairway above the second floor. This would help people avoid crossing stairways, which act similar to chimneys during a fire as smoke and flames rise.
For more information on Pearl, go to www.pearlprotected.com