Emergency lighting is an essential part of the health and safety provision of any building. Emergency lighting provides immediate secondary lighting when the power supply to the normal lighting fails and ensures that occupants can leave the building safely.
Essential in many businesses and public spaces as a basic safety measure for emergency situations—including power outages and fires—emergency lights are lights that use a backup power source to illuminate key areas when other lights aren't functioning. These lights have an independent power source to keep them on if the power goes out and include lighting for common areas such as staircases, as well as the traditional fire exit signs found in many buildings.
Beyond the obvious safety benefits for your employees, customers, and visitors, these lights are also required by law. Individuals or companies that fail to comply with safety codes by not installing proper emergency lights could find themselves faced with hefty fines and penalties.
All commercial buildings are required to have emergency lighting systems to comply with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) codes. These requirements were originally established by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) under what’s known as the Life Safety Code, or NFPA 101, and call for buildings to provide a lighted path to an exit in the event of a power outage, a fire, or some other emergency situation.
Fire exit signs also must be present in commercial structures, and they must be powered by a reliable light source. Emergency lighting accessories, such as light sticks, can provide additional illumination if needed.
The lights themselves are quite simple and consist of a fixture connected to the main power supply, which charges a small battery. If power to the fixture is cut, the circuits inside switch over to the backup battery to provide lighting during an outage.
The two primary categories of emergency lighting are:
Maintained, which are used as part of day-to-day business, as well as during power failures. These lights are powered by the main electrical supply, as described above, and stay on without electrical power thanks to a battery-powered backup.
Non-maintained, which are emergency lights that only light up during emergencies or when the power goes out.
Because of their importance, special care should be taken to ensure emergency lights are installed properly and serviced regularly. When installing emergency lights, first consult an electrician to ensure all safety procedures are followed. You may choose to have a professional install the fixtures for you. Regardless, be sure to refer to the instructions that come with the lights.
Remember, emergency light is connected to the electrical wiring of a building or home and is designed to switch to battery power during an outage or if a breaker is tripped. Before installing, first make sure the house circuit you are connecting to is turned to the OFF position to avoid possible electrocution, and that the fuse box is tagged “Do Not Energize.”
There are two primary ways to mount emergency lights. In most cases, they will be attached (or partially attached) to the wall or ceiling before connecting the wiring. Lights will either use mounting brackets or have holes for screws to be drilled into wall studs.
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