Emergency Escape Lighting

Last updated: December 12, 2019

What Does Emergency Escape Lighting Mean?

Emergency escape lighting is a type of lighting used to facilitate the escape of persons from a building or facility in the event of an emergency. It is designed to be illuminated in situations where the building’s normal lighting system has failed.

The primary purpose of emergency escape lighting is to enable evacuation in the event of a fire. The installation of emergency escape lighting is required as part of occupational health and safety standards, building codes, and fire codes (including both regulatory and consensus codes/standards).

Safeopedia Explains Emergency Escape Lighting

Emergency escape lighting is installed to ensure that the inhabitants of a building or facility can safely and efficiently exit a building should the building’s normal lighting fail. The three aspects of emergency escape lighting are escape route lighting, open area lighting, and high-risk area lighting.

Escape route lighting enables safe evacuation by ensuring that all escape routes—including exits, corridors, and stairways—are adequately illuminated, along with safety and security equipment such as fire extinguishers.

Open area lighting, also called anti-panic lighting, is useful for individuals who are not familiar with the layout of the building. This form of lighting is used to direct individuals toward the location of evacuation routes and emergency exits.

High-risk area lighting is used in workplaces that involve potentially dangerous tasks, such as chemical process manufacturing or power generation. Lighting in this area must provide workers with the visibility necessary to swiftly carry out shut-down procedures before escaping.

In the United States, OSHA’s standards for emergency lighting rely on the National Fire Protection Association’s emergency lighting requirements (described in NFPA 101, also known as the Life Safety Code). In Europe, emergency lighting requirements are laid out under the European Standard EN 1838 (lighting applications—emergency lighting).


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