Types of Emergency Lighting

Updated February 21, 2017

Emergency lighting is used to help minimise injury and deaths in the event of an emergency. These fixtures provide light to allow occupants to safely evacuate the building, and help reduce panic and confusion. Emergency lighting may guide the way to an exit, or simply provide enough light for essential operations to take place.

Escape Route Lighting

Escape route lighting is used to illuminate exit paths to guide occupants safely out of the building. It commonly consists of small floor-mounted lights, often based on LED or similar technology. Escape lighting prevents building occupants from getting lost or disoriented during an emergency, and helps clearly mark potential exit paths. These lights are commonly found in the aisles of theatres and aeroplanes, as well as in many other applications.

Safety Lighting

Safety lighting, also known as high-risk task lighting, is used to light areas that must be accessed in an emergency. This type of lighting is most commonly found in industrial or manufacturing facilities, and allows employees to shut down equipment or machines that could pose a hazard to evacuees or the public. Safety lighting also allows equipment operators to safely stop work and exit the area in the event of an emergency.

Standby Lighting

Standby lighting allows critical activities to continue after a power failure or emergency. It is used to illuminate facilities such as hospitals, fire stations, and other vital services when normal power supplies are unavailable. To ensure these facilities can operate, their standby lighting systems are fuelled by generators or battery packs, which automatically switch on when the main power goes out.

Anti-Panic Lighting

Anti-panic, or open air, lighting is designed to allow occupants to quickly flee an area, or to reach a marked escape path. These lights are commonly found in large facilities like sports arenas, stadiums, or auditoriums. They may consist of emergency floodlights or similar fixtures, which are powered by battery packs or generators. Anti-panic lights help keep large crowds calm and safe during an emergency, and reduce lives lost due to panic.

Exit Signs

Exit signs help point out available exits in buildings or other facilities. They are illuminated and marked with lettering or pictures to indicate an escape route. Exit sign placement is often heavily regulated, and typically, at least one exit sign must be visible at every location in a building. They are often connected to a backup power source, such as a battery pack, so that they are still illuminated during a power failure. Many exit signs are powered by an internal gas, such as tritium, which can light the sign for many years with no need for external power.

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About the Author

Emily Beach works in the commercial construction industry in Maryland. She received her LEED accreditation from the U.S. Green Building Council in 2008 and is in the process of working towards an Architectural Hardware Consultant certification from the Door and Hardware Institute. She received a bachelor's degree in economics and management from Goucher College in Towson, Maryland.