Emergency Exit

Last updated: July 12, 2019

What Does Emergency Exit Mean?

An emergency exit is an exit that is used to provide a safe means of escape from a structure or area in the event of an emergency, such as a fire.

The exit must be in an easily accessible, unobstructed, and permanent location.

Safeopedia Explains Emergency Exit

Emergency exits must open into locations that are either immediately safe or that provide access to a safe area. A designated main doorway can be used as an emergency exit if it meets certain safety standards such as the ability to be easily opened from the inside. However, emergency exits are often reserved exits that may only be used in the case of an emergency. Fire escape exits, which consist of ladders or stairwells mounted to the outside of a building, are a special type of emergency exit.

Modern building codes require buildings to have a specific number of emergency exits, with the number of required exits varying depending on the size of the building and the potential number of individuals who may need to use the exit. Other non-building workplaces, such as airplanes, are also required by law to have emergency exits. Typically, emergency exits must be indicated by specific forms of signage that indicate the direction or presence of an emergency exit.

In order for emergency exits to remain compliant with safety standards, they must be maintained to ensure they continue to function as an exit and are unobstructed by material that may limit access or pose a tripping hazard. Since emergency exits must provide access to a safe area, if an exit opens into an enclosed interior stairwell, that stairwell must offer emergency lighting so that workers can move through it safely. Because emergency exits are commonly used to provide relief from fire, many emergency exits are built with fire doors that resist the spread of fire through the exit.

In the United States, standards for emergency exits are described by the National Fire Protection Association’s Standard 101, also called the Life Safety Code.


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