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Where Should Emergency Lighting Be Used?

Emergency lighting is provided when the normal light source fails or experiences a power outage. Emergency lighting is therefore usually operated through a battery that does not rely on the main power supply. Many buildings now have a legal requirement for emergency lighting to be installed so that in the event of a blackout sufficient light is provided to guide people out of the building whilst navigating around any obstacles in the way. Some emergency lighting systems are made of incandescent bulbs however newer systems might include high intensity light-emitting diodes (LED). 

Emergency lighting is commonly installed in high occupancy buildings including, flats, college dormitories, new commercial buildings etc. This is after the British Standards guidelines 5266-1:2011 demand that residential hotels, clubs, hospitals, schools, licensed premises, office, shops etc have adequate emergency lighting installed. Even though all new buildings will have an emergency lighting code, when some old buildings were built regulations regarding emergency lighting were not present and therefore emergency lighting in some older buildings might have been added since.  

Inside the buildings, emergency lighting should be installed in all common areas and escape routes. Escape routes should be sufficiently lit and should navigate people out of dangerous situations safely and effectively. Regulations also state that any open area that is larger than 60 square metres should also have emergency lighting installed. It is recognised that during an emergency there is a high level of panic so having the area lit is important to avoid accidents. Further regulations state that emergency lights should be fitted within 2 metres (6ft 7in) in horizontal distance above a fire alarm or firefighting appliance. In some instance emergency lighting is provided so that the safety of the people working in the potentially dangerous environment is optimised, allowing them to do their job as best as possible. 

It is important to note that there might be different emergency lighting requirements for different buildings. A building will be assessed and a set of emergency lighting requirements would be developed. Therefore depending on the results of the assessment some buildings might require emergency lighting to maintain use for 3 hours whereas other buildings requirements might only demand an hour’s supply of emergency lighting. In general, emergency lighting is strategically placed to provide a sufficient level of lighting in high occupancy buildings to ensure the safety of those within the building by guiding them to safety, or to those who might have to enter the building during a black out.

In all cases, if you’re not sure whether you need emergency lighting or not, or where you should be placing it, get an expert in to advise.

About the Author: Electrical Testing Surveyors Ltd are a well established and fully qualified electrical installation and portable appliance testing company, able to provide testing to companies and organisations all over the UK. You can reach them at enquiries@electrical-testing.co.uk and find more information on the website at www.electrical-testing.co.uk.

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