Fire Safety Learning Center

Articles and other information related to fire safety equipment and procedures in Illinois.

Emergency Lighting and Your Safety

Power outages may seem like a rare occurance; something that happens so infrequently that it would be foolish to dwell on their possibility.

But are you prepared for the lights to go out?

Any building that hosts a large amount of people, whether residential or commercial, is required by law to have emergency lights installed in the event of a crisis.

Sometimes, a loss of power can be the result of a fire, caused by electrical malfunction (short circuits, improper wiring, etc.). In this case, a lack of lighting can be deadly. The chief responsibility of an emergency lighting system is to illuminate the path to safety. It is nearly impossible for evacuation procedures to take place without adequate lighting.

Emergency headlights and floodlights serve this purpose by providing bright light to hallways and other well-traveled areas. These lights are battery operated, and are activated immediately following a power outage.

Illuminated "Stairs" signs and "Exit" signs (shown above) are another form of emergency lighting that are a must in every commercial and residential complex. As the signs would dictate, they serve to light the way to safety during an emergency situation. These signs are especially valuable in buildings with many floors that utilize elevators more often than stairs, as many employees and residents may not even be aware of where the designated exits are, having never needed to use them. These signs are always lit and have the ability to switch to back up bulbs during an outage.

Not equipping your building with the proper safety equipment is irresponsible and can lead to a myriad of legal issues, especially in the case of death. These issues can include wrongful death lawsuits and a lack of insurance support.

An emergency lighting system requires frequent service to ensure it is in working order. A technician should test all batteries and bulbs, and replace them if needed. All equipment should be labeled with the date of service by the technician. Equipment that is not labeled or has not been serviced in at least a year is not considered adequate. If an emergency were to occur, building management could be vulnerable to the legal issues mentioned above.

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