in: Featured, Outdoor/Survival, Skills, Visual Guides

• Last updated: June 1, 2021

How to Escape From a Building Using Bedsheets

How to escape from a building with bedsheets diagram.

Tying bedsheets together to make a viable rope seems like the sort of thing reserved for cartoons and action movies. But time and again it’s been proven to be a very real way to escape from multi-story buildings. A few days before Christmas in 2012, two inmates in a Chicago prison escaped their 17th-story cells by tying bedsheets together. A few years later, a prisoner in a maximum security prison in Australia used his sheets to scale exterior walls and escape. And if you think this tactic is reserved for desperate criminal masterminds, think again. On a warm summer night in Virginia in August of 2017, a 78-year-old woman escaped the flames engulfing her apartment by, you guessed it, tying her sheets together.

Whether you’re a prisoner looking to make a daring escape or a tourist trying to flee from a burning hotel, tying bedsheets together is a perfectly viable way to make a makeshift rope. It’s also a good reason to always buy high-quality sheets, as higher thread counts mean higher tensile strength, which leads to a stronger bedsheet rope.

1: Estimate the distance from the ground to your window. The average height of a single story is about 10 feet.

2: Gather enough bedsheets to open the distance from your window to the ground. A king-sized sheet equals about 12 feet of “rope”.

3: Using square knots, tie your sheets together at the corners to maximize sheet length.

4: Secure one end of your rope to something sturdy, like a bed frame or radiator, or something larger than the window opening, like a dresser.

5: Lower yourself out the window while holding onto the bedsheet rope.

6: Snake the bedsheet between your feet to help control your descent.

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Illustrated by Ted Slampyak

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