Emergency Exit Lights: The Drawbacks of Backup Lighting

Emergency backup lighting is found in most large commercial and residential buildings. It is not, however, the only form of exit lighting a building needs. Backup lights have significant drawbacks compared to photoluminescent lighting that could lead to casualties when the right conditions are present. Below are four reasons why buildings should contain photoluminescent egress markings, in addition to emergency exit lights.

Backup Lighting Provides “Spaces” of Illumination

Unlike luminous egress markings that reveal the full dimensions of egress paths, backup lighting provides “spaces” of illumination that are interrupted by darkened areas, especially when smoke is present. This effect has the potential to distort the dimensions of egress paths, and to cause evacuees to abandon an exit leading path for a non-exit leading path that displays more visibility. Luminescent egress markings—including directional arrows indicating the direction of an egress path when its continuance is unclear—help to prevent such occurrences.

Backup Lighting Contains Breakable Parts

Backup lighting contains breakable parts that could malfunction due to the following things: improper maintenance, falling debris, and shockwaves from explosions. For buildings consisting of hundreds of backup lights to maintain illumination, if residing in earthquake zones, or to contain explosive products or substances, these occurrences are a legitimate threat. By implementing electricity-free and maintenance-free luminescent egress markings that contain no breakable parts, building owners can preserve the visibility of egress paths when backup lighting fails.

Backup Lighting Reacts Poorly to Dense Smoke

Emergency exit lights perform in dense smoke similar to how headlights perform in dense fog. This is due to the wavelength of their illumination becoming blocked by smoke particles, leaving them unable to illuminate large areas of egress path. Conversely, luminescent egress markings emit a lower wavelength that remains clearly visible through dense smoke, making it a critical safety backup for auxiliary lighting.

Backup Lighting could fail in the Event of a Generator Failure

Backup lighting is either battery or generator powered. In buildings containing hundreds or more backup lights, maintenance expense dictates the latter option. The 1993 World Trade Center Bombing showed what can happen when generators that power backup lighting fail. When bombs destroyed the World Trade Center’s backup generators, building occupants were left to navigate vertical exit enclosures in the dark. As a result of this occurrence, municipalities across the U.S. passed legislation mandating the implementation of luminescent egress markings in commercial and large residential buildings.

Glo-Brite has the Egress Markings Your Building Needs

At Glo-Brite, we offer components for self-luminous safety systems for commercial and large residential buildings, including safety signs, exit signs, and egress markings. Powered by our patented Glo-Brite technology, these products have superior visibility through smoke, and burn for up to ninety-six hours in total darkness.

If your building has emergency exit lights, but not photoluminescent egress markings, the risk of injuries and casualties during smoke filled evacuations increase. Luminescent markings are inexpensive, easy to implement, and can last for twenty-five years or more. To implement them and improve the evacuation regulations and safety of your building, call us today.

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