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Lighting Oct 9, 2021

Eurolux: The Importance of Emergency Lighting

When the normal power supply in a building fails, it’s important that occupants can exit the building safely, especially if there is a fire or other emergency. In such instances, emergency lighting is necessary to provide illumination to find escape routes for those inside and to provide sufficient light for emergency personnel, like firefighters, to enter the premises.

An open-plan office that is used mainly during daylight hours does not necessarily require emergency lighting, but the areas around it would. Locations such as the stairwell, lift foyer, and basement parking may not receive adequate natural daylight, so emergency lighting here is of vital importance.

Types of Emergency Lighting

Escape route lighting:

This type of lighting illuminates escape routes so that the occupants of the building can see exactly where they need to go, in order to make a quick and safe exit during a fire or emergency. This route is typically not where occupants would ordinarily enter or exit the building, so having it highlighted during an evacuation is important. The brightness level of escape route lighting in buildings, like offices, should not be less than 1 lux when measured at floor level. Public buildings such as hospitals, hotels, and cinemas, where the occupants may not be so familiar with the layout, call for 1 lux. Old age homes and facilities caring for the mentally or physically challenged need a minimum brightness of 3 lux.

Safety lighting:

This type of lighting is most common in factories and plants where dangerous equipment and hazardous materials are used. Hot metals, chemical vats, and rotating machinery all pose a threat to evacuees who are trying to exit in a hurry. Making sure they’re well-illuminated reduces the risk of any dangerous run-ins as people make their way out. The brightness level of this lighting should not be less than 20 lux.

Standby lighting:

Standby lighting is imperative for locations where essential services take place. Operating theatres and fire stations are two examples of places where lighting is needed for life-saving work to continue if the electricity goes off. There is no specified level of brightness, but the lighting should be bright enough for service to continue effectively.

Emergency Lighting Fixtures

Any type of lighting can be adapted for use as an emergency light, however, it must conform to SANS 1464-22: Safety of luminaires: Luminaires for emergency lighting and it must be a fixed unit – portable luminaires are not appropriate in emergency situations, as they may be difficult to locate in the dark if they have been moved. Emergency exit signs that light up are always used to indicate the direction in which the building’s occupants should move during an emergency.

For full specifications on emergency lighting refer to the following standards:

  • SANS 10114-1: Interior Lighting: Artificial Lighting for interiors
  • SANS 10114-2: Interior Lighting: Emergency Lighting
  • SANS 1464-22: Safety of luminaires: Luminaires for emergency lighting

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