Click! Darkness. The power’s out, and it’s the dead of night! But suddenly, light! That light is your emergency lighting, and its purpose is to be there exactly when you need it. Truth be told, most people never give a second thought to emergency and exit lighting service. But these systems are pivotal to your safety in the event of a sudden blackout or power failure. Imagine trying to navigate a building, perhaps even one full of panicking people, in near-total darkness? Even if you knew this building well, such as your workplace, school, place of worship, or home, it is conceivable if not certain that navigating it in unexpected and sudden darkness would be a difficult feat. This nightmare scenario is totally averted by properly installed and maintained exit and emergency lighting. But what are these systems, and what does servicing them entail?
Let’s start with emergency lighting. Modern emergency lights are comprised of an array of LEDs, diffusing lenses, a lead-acid battery, and a simple yet ingenious bit of circuitry that acts much like a UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply). During normal operation, the emergency lights draw a small wattage from the wall to keep the battery charged. In the event of a loss of power, the controller automatically switches away from drawing power from the wall and begins to draw power from the internal battery. In most jurisdictions, the battery must be able to supply at least 90 minutes of continuous power to the lights to be able to pass emergency protocol muster. However, many batteries can last much longer, with some able to provide upwards of 8 hours of continuous emergency lighting in the case of a blackout. The lamps should shine very brightly and keenly and should be aimed at the main foot traffic areas of the room, such as walkways, steps, stairs, and doors. Even though fire safety regulations necessitate that people move slowly and calmly to the exits, running, tripping, and subsequent trampling does occur. Keeping the room well-lit and the walkways visible helps to avoid panic and prevent accidents such as this from occurring.
Equally important, and often combined with emergency lighting, are exit signs. While the words “EXIT” are, in fact, lit, these are for readability only and for this reason, exit signs and emergency lighting are often combined into the same piece of equipment. In addition to making exits visible, exit signs also direct people to outside-facing doors, something just as useful in day-to-day circumstances as well as emergency situations. The front panel contains arrow cutouts which can be punched through, revealing the translucent material underneath and allowing light to shine through them, directing foot traffic. Exit signs are most typically mounted directly above exit doors, or near and pointing to them if the door is out of sightlines. For a clean mounting, electricians will typically use a ceiling bracket and squirrel all the cabling away overhead. In addition to looking much nicer, this prevents accidental removal or tampering with the line and better ensures the emergency lighting will be functional in the case of a real emergency.
Always make sure your exit and emergency lighting is properly installed and regularly inspected and maintained by professionals in the field. Weber Fire staffs experts to make sure your home or business is never left in the dark.