Written by Steve Hudgik
The word “egress” means a way of getting out. The phrase “emergency egress” refers to the means by which people can safely get out of a building during an emergency. Egress means more than just an exit. It also includes a means to get to that exit. That means an emergency egress has two major parts, both of which must be clearly identified by signs – the pathway to the exit and the exit.
An emergency egress also must accommodate people with special requirements. An emergency egress, by law, must be wide enough so that the occupants can get out, and a fully equipped firefighter can get in. And it must take into consideration unique hazards that may exist in the building. For example, the building may contain toxic chemicals or flammable gases.
An emergency egress may also include a third component used to get people away from the building. For example, multiple story buildings may have a fire escape, mounted on the outside of the building, to bring people safely to the ground level. This part of an emergency egress must also have appropriate signs and labels.
Signs directing people to exits must be installed along the egress pathway. The signs should include the word EXIT. Multiple languages should be used, when necessary, or the international symbol for exit should be included. When appropriate, an arrow should be included, pointing in the direction people need to go to get to the exit.
Exits should be clearly identified with exit signs that display the word EXIT in large letters. Exit signs must illuminate when it is dark. This typically has been done using battery powered electric signs, but current standards are now requiring phosphorescent exit signs that do not require power. Current emergency egress best practices uses phosphorescent signs for all signs used to identify the exit pathway and exits.
In multiple story buildings the NFPA 101 code requires marking with phosphorescent signs, labels and tape. Both stair treads and handrails must be marked with phosphorescent tape so they can easily be seen in the dark. Phosphorescent signs must be used to identify the direction to the exit (going down the stairs is not always the way out) and identify the exit itself.
DuraLabel has the sign printers and supplies need for making the signs, labels and markings needed for emergency egress. Call 1-888-326-9244 today and ask about special DuraLabel kits for making safety signs and labels. Your DuraLabel representative can create a custom kit to meet your specific needs to emergency exit signs and markings, including both standard signs, high visibility reflective signs, and phosphorescent signs and marking.