Emergency lighting is used when standard lighting fails or experiences a power outage. Usually, the emergency lighting is operated through a secondary battery source that works separately from the primary power source.
Nowadays, many buildings are legally required to install emergency lighting in certain locations in case of a blackout. These lights provide sufficient illumination to guide people out of the building. This helps the evacuating people to navigate around any obstacles in their way without tripping. To ensure the emergency lights operate when an emergency occurs, periodic emergency light testing must be carried out to ensure their functionality.
LED vs Traditional Emergency Lights
Some emergency lighting systems use traditional fluorescent light bulbs, which are relatively cheaper to install but consume more energy. More recent designs use high-intensity light-emitting diodes (LED) for emergency lighting. LED’s cost more when installing them. However, they more than compensate for it within a few months with their significant savings.
Standard British Regulations
Emergency lights are commonly installed in high-occupancy buildings, such as residential complexes, college dormitories, commercial buildings, trade centres, etc. British Standards guidelines 5266:2011 demand adequate emergency lighting in residential hotels, clubs, schools, hospitals, offices, shops, licensed premises, etc.
All the new buildings in the U.K. follow the emergency lighting code. However, the code was not established when some of the old buildings were built. That’s why some of the old buildings still fall short of the regulations. Property owners must upgrade their buildings to safeguard their residents or visitors.
Regulations stipulate that any open area larger than 60 sq. metres should have emergency lighting installed. It is widely accepted that the chances of mass panic are very high during an emergency. Having a well-lighted area for evacuation is extremely important to avoid accidents.
Further regulations stipulate that the emergency lights must be fitted within 2 metres or 6 feet and 7 inches horizontally above a fire alarm or a firefighting tool. Some people work in a potentially dangerous environment. Emergency lighting is provided in such an environment to optimise their work, allowing them to perform their duties to the best of their abilities.
Necessity of Emergency Lights
It is imperative to have emergency lighting installed in all the common areas and all escape routes. Escape routes should have sufficient lighting to allow people easy navigation. When a disaster strikes, people are usually in too much panic to effectively manoeuvre in the dark. Sudden darkness accompanied by the impending sense of danger can cause mass hysteria, endangering everyone in the building. Emergency lights save lives, no doubt about it.
Please note that not all buildings fall under the same regulations for emergency lighting. A building is assessed by the fire department or professionally certified experts, and then the appropriate requirements are developed.
Depending on the assessment results, some buildings may require emergency lighting to maintain their usage for three hours because it could potentially take that long for complete evacuation. On the other hand, most buildings require only an hour-long power supply for emergency lighting. Modern buildings are also built with designs that allow quick evacuation in an emergency.
Placing of Emergency Lights
Generally, emergency lighting is placed in a strategic location which allows for maximum illumination to the passages. Their location and neon colouring immediately attract attention so that the panicked crowds can follow them even in their distressed state of mind.
In case you are not sure whether your premises need emergency lighting or where to place it, it is preferable to ask for advice from an expert than risk violating regulations.