Why Are Exit Signs Important?
How will you react in an emergency?
Imagine you are in a confined space with lots of strangers when something goes horribly wrong. Could you find your way out?
If there was a fire, would you be able to navigate your way to safety? Does you building have Exit Signs ?
In a fire, there would be thick, black smoke lingering in the air, making it difficult to see. The lights would probably be off because of power failure, making visibility even worse. Even if you were in a building you knew well, one you frequent every day, would you be able to find the exit by relying on your memory alone?
Add to this situation the panic ensuing around you, as people struggle to understand what is going on, then realize that their lives might be at stake. Everyone will respond to the stress in their own way, which can never truly be predicted unless it has happened. Even a person who is normally very calm may end up in a state of panic or hysteria.
With all of that going on, the faculties of memory and logic are liable to decrease and even shut down. What then?
How can landlords, business owners, and organizations ensure that they keep everyone safe in such situations? How can exit signs minimize the risks to public safety?
Read on for answers.
Yes, It Can Happen to You
Before we get into the specifics of how to minimize injury and loss of life, it is important to understand one vital point:
It can happen to you.
Many people avoid thinking about these types of situations, which is understandable - they are uncomfortable to think about. Moreover, people believe that these instances are rare. They think that they are so rare that it is unlikely it would ever happen to them.
This is not true.
Emergencies, by definition, are unexpected. No one expects it to happen to them, yet, these incidents happen.
In fact, the National Fire Protection Association reports that in 2017, 3 fires and 2 explosions occurred in “non-home” structures that killed 19 people. In 2016, there were 8 fires accounting for 65 deaths. These statistics show that fires in warehouses, nightclubs, and other places of business happen.
When they happen in a building where the business owner has not taken proper precautions, tragedy occurs. Therefore, it is imperative that business owners keep their buildings up to standard, especially if those buildings will be occupied by many people at the same time (warehouses, night clubs, high-rise office spaces, airplanes, etc.).
Exit Signs Illuminate a Path to Safety and an Entrance for Help
One way to help protect the patrons inside an enclosed building is to ensure that each exit is well marked by exit signs.
People are often unable to think logically in high-stress, emergency situations. Unfortunately, this can mean that even if people have been working in or visiting the same building every day for years, they may not be able to find an exit when the room is dark. Even if emergency lighting comes on, it can be difficult to differentiate where a wall ends and a door begins in smoky, dimly lit conditions.
That is why it is so important to include clearly illuminated exit signs indicating where the doors are. Exit signs help direct people who may be panicked and confused towards safety.
It’s important that these exit signs clearly communicate their message so that they can be understood by anyone. Traditionally, exit signs have one word written on them: “E X I T” which clearly communicates an undeniable message. However, children and people who don’t speak English may not understand what these signs mean. Therefore, in recent times the trend has shifted towards exit signs consisting of just pictograms. This is a more universal way of communicating the same message.
The importance of exit signs in being able to find a way out of a building cannot be overstated, and indeed, this is the main function of exit signs. However, another equally important function of these signs is that they help first responders navigate their way around the building.
Clearly illuminated doorways can help paramedics, firefighters, and other personnel get help to the people that need it inside. Without the signs, it can take first responders extra time to discover clear access and egress routes, which will delay much-needed services.
Exit Signs Are a Mandatory Part of Building Safety
It is clear that exit signs are a crucial piece of building safety. Their role is to serve as a shining beacon indicating the way out of a dangerous situation for panicked people, and the way in for first responders.
It is no wonder that the government requires compliance with specific guidelines on exit signage for all the different types and functions of buildings. Different levels of government are involved in regulatory oversight to ensure structures comply with the building code, and it is taken very seriously at the federal, state, and municipal level.
The government knows how important exit signage is to public safety, and it encourages business owners and landlords to take a proactive role in mitigating disaster. If people fail to comply with these codes serious consequences, including criminal charges, can occur.
Do your part to help ensure public safety by making sure your building has proper exit signage.