Exit Signs & Emergency Lights

“Don’t Overlook This Need”

Exit signage and emergency lighting are required in your building. It doesn’t matter how small your building is; when one is in a bit of a panic, a lighted exit sign and emergency lights are important. A lighted exit sign that is directly hardwired with a battery backup is required. You need an exit sign at all locations that one would need direction in order to get out of the building. This includes a sign directly over top of your exit door(s). Don’t forget an arrow that points in the direction of the exit door if you are communicating down a hallway. Some exit signs are universal and come with punch-out arrows. If you use common sense with exiting rationale, you will be pretty close to having what you need. Special-use occupancies require special exit lighting (i.e. – hotels), but most downtown buildings comply with the above statements.

Emergency lighting is different than security lighting. A security light is defined as a nightlight which is on 24 hours a day and provides “security” for you building. It simply lights up the space, so the burglar feels a bit uncomfortable as they are stealing from you. Emergency lighting is a light that will come on when your power goes out. In other words, when there is an emergency. This light is directly hardwired with a backup battery. The hardwiring simply keeps the battery charged 24/7 so it will function if and when the power goes off. Just like the exit sign, the emergency light needs to properly illuminate the exiting path(s). Again, common sense goes a long way in locating these lights.

I like to put in a combination exit light and emergency light when I can. Sometimes, the local building official will not allow them, so check with your official. The reason they give for denying it is that the light shines directly upon the eyes of the person trying to get out. This is typical of a combination/above the exit door; however, these combination units often comes with two lights on either side of the exit sign which are movable so you can control the direction in which it shines. Directing these onto the side walls providing indirect lighting is my typical pushback if the official resists this system. Obviously, having one location with power is less expensive than multiple locations, which is why I prefer this approach when I can.