Being trapped on an upper floor of a burning high-rise is the stuff of nightmares, but a product called SkySaver offers a last-resort means of escape, should that unlikely scenario occur and a safer exit is unavailable. SkySaver is worn on the back like a backpack and allows the user to descend out of a window and reach the ground in one piece.
SkySaver requires an anchor point be installed by a certified company, in most cases drilled into the wall above a suitable window. In an emergency, the user would put the backpack on, attach the integrated cable to the anchor point using a carabiner, pop out of the window and descend to the ground.
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SkySaver features a Controlled Descent Device which automatically unravels a fire-resistant galvanized steel cable at a steady rate of around 6 ft (1.8 m) per second. It's rated for a minimum of 66 lb (29 kg) and a maximum of 300 lb (136 kg), though a child's version is in the works, too.
It comes in three lengths: 80 ft (24 m), 160 ft (48 m), and 260 ft (80 m), weighing 18 lb (8.1 kg), 22 lb (10 kg), and 26 lb (11.7 kg), respectively.
There are some caveats, however. SkySaver won't protect you from flying glass, fire, falling debris, or other desperate people trying to wrestle it off you. Nor can a user descend and then send it back up to help someone else. A refurbishment program is planned for reuse, but the system needs to be professionally rewound before it's used again. High winds could be a worry, too.
It's also worth mentioning that there are similar products already on the market, like the Rescue Reel, for example. That said, SkySaver does appear to be comparatively user-friendly and requires no training.
SkySaver was developed in Israel by a team that includes a former Lieutenant General of the Israel Defense Forces, plus safety experts, and the firm says it has been extensively tested and certified by a company called Gravitec Labs. It also comes with a 7-year guarantee and needs no maintenance.
SkySaver is available for purchase now. Prices start at US$899 for the 80 ft (24 m) version, with the 160 ft (48 m) and 260 ft (80 m) fetching $949 and $999.
The promo video below shows it in use.