This week’s installment of Topics for Safety Meetings addresses working safely around electricity. Although installation of exit signs and emergency lighting is nothing new to the certified electrician, many business owners choose to install units themselves or have maintenance workers perform the job. Safety when working with electricity extends to the average employee dealing with office equipment or even appliances in the breakroom.
First and foremost for anyone dealing directly with an electrical connection – shut the power off to the circuit you will be using! Standard voltage in the United States is 120 or 277 volts, which could produce an affect anywhere from a tingling sensation to fatal electrocution depending on the conditions of contact. Once the power is removed, use a tester to make sure the power is actually off to the location you are working in. Use the correct tools; for instance, use wire strippers when needed instead of a pocket knife or razor blade to minimize the risk of injury.
General safety measures when around or using electrical equipment include:
– Reading and following any instructions included with equipment
– Do not force a plug into an outlet that does not match the slot configuration
– Do not touch electrical equipment, plugs, outlets or switches with wet hands
– Grip the plug to remove equipment from an outlet instead of pulling the cord
– Although equipment may be “off” electricity is still present. Unplug before cleaning, fixing or inspecting unit and when not in use
– Do not touch equipment with possibly compromised circuitry (indicators include flickering lights, sparks coming from unit, buzzing noises)
Leave your meeting with a reminder – Accidents Hurt, Safety Doesn’t. Remember to bookmark this page or subscribe to our blog to receive next week’s topic for safety meetings.
Welcome to our blog series featuring Topics for Safety meetings. Every year in America, nearly 4 million people suffer a workplace injury from which some may never recover.* So while we may immediately assume that safety meetings are best conducted in hazardous workplaces, it is necessary to have frequent safety meetings in any type of workplace environment. These posts are designed for the business owner, safety officer or any compliance related professional to use as a building block for their own safety meetings and are not to be used as a final resource for safety compliance laws or regulations.
As a supplier of exit and emergency lighting, it is logical for us to start this series with emergency evacuation awareness. Preparation for an emergency incident plays a vital role in ensuring that employers and workers have the necessary equipment, know where to go and how to stay safe when an emergency does occur. Before presenting this topic to employees at your safety meeting, ask yourself: Do I know the who, what, when and where of our emergency evacuation procedure? Make copies of the evacuation routes at your facility to hand out. For a small facility, repeated evacuation drills may not be necessary, but a quick walk-through every few months will help ensure that all employees receive the same information run through.
Show the employees the type of exit signs or emergency egress signs in use at your facility. Do you have signage indicating there is a stairwell to use? Is there an area of refuge for handicapped persons and is it marked? Are Braille signs appropriately used? This will help you assess the needs of your employees and make sure that your signage and procedures are up to date. Even if your signage is perfectly adequate per your local building standards, drawing attention to them will increase awareness and therefore preparedness in an emergency situation.
While shopping for tritium exit signs, you may have noticed the extended lead times associated with receipt of the product. Because of the rules and regulations related to the production of tritium exit signs, along with the limitations of a single operating supplier, lead time is averaging 12-24 weeks. If you are unable to wait this length of time to receive your signs, there may be an alternative for you.
If you are able to run power to a unit, a traditional hard wired LED exit sign is the most cost-effective option. If you are not able the run power to the location of the exit sign, you may be able to use a photoluminescent exit sign. The following chart will help you determine if you are able to use this type of sign instead of tritium: Tritium Fact Sheet.
If you’ve determined that a tritium exit sign is still your best option, get your order in as soon as possible!
The Exit Light Company, a provider of quality and economical exit signs and emergency lighting products, has been awarded a Google Trusted Stores badge. The Google Trusted Stores program helps shoppers buy online with confidence. It is only awarded to stores with a proven track record of reliable, on-time shipping and excellent customer service. When customers see the Google Trusted Store badge on e-commerce websites, they know they’re buying from a store that provides a consistently excellent shopping experience.
By moving their mouse over the badge, customers are shown detailed information regarding the store’s shipping and customer service. Currently, The Exit Light Company has an “A” rating for both Reliable Shipping and Excellent Service. After monitoring thousands of transactions, Google can report that our orders have 96% on-time shipping with a one day average to ship the order after receipt.
The ultimate goal of The Exit Light Company is and always will be customer satisfaction. Past recognition, loyal customers and now inclusion in the Google Trusted Stores program further confirms that this goal is being met and exceeded.
As the recent tragedy at the Kiss Nightclub in Santa Maria, Brazil demonstrates, public fire safety continues to remain a serious problem. Any time you mix large crowds of semi-intoxicated people with low levels of lighting, minimal exits, and add smoke and fire, the result is always tragic.
In North America there have been several notable nightclub fires:
- Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire – May 28, 1977 – 165 Dead
- Blue Bird Cafe Nightclub Fire – September 1, 1972 – Montreal, Canada – 37 Dead
- Cocoanut Grove Fire – November 28, 1942 – Boston, Massachusetts – 492 Dead
- Happy Land Social Club Fire – March 25, 1990 – New York City, New York – 87 Dead
- Rhythm Nightclub Fire – April 23, 1940 – Natchez, Mississippi – 209 Dead
- Station Nightclub Fire – February 20, 2003 – 100 Dead
*Learn more about historical fires in the United States in our State by State Fire FAQs.
After fire analysis has repeatedly noted the importance of well-lit and uncluttered exit pathways, and show that the majority of deaths are usually due to smoke inhalation or trampling. Victims could have survived if they had been able to quickly and safely exit the structure.
The Exit Light Company reminds everyone that the sole purpose for the products that we sell (exit signs and emergency lights) is to save lives, not property. Here are some helpful tips for both patrons and business owners:
If you are a Patron:
- Use common sense, don’t patronize businesses in buildings that do not look safe. Some warning signs are that the building does not have a sprinkler system, exit signs or emergency lights are broken and non-functional, or if you see that most of the exit doors are blocked or even locked (chained shut)
- Be aware of the location of at least two exits at all times (the first being the one that you entered through)
- Never drink so much that you will not be able to react to an emergency situation
- If you are caught up in a crowd, it doesn’t matter if you are large and strong, try to get to a wall or to the edge of the crowd. Many deaths are dues to trample injuries
- Try to stay low, to minimize smoke inhalation
- If possible, cover your nose and mouth with a cloth. Use your shirt, jacket, or a napkin, if available. If you can, wet the cloth with water. Never use alcohol to wet the cloth, as alcohol is highly flammable
- Don’t worry about your stuff (purse, backpack, etc.). It’s replaceable, you’re not
- If you are in a group, agree on an assembly point, somewhere you can all get to safely, then don’t worry too much about keeping together
- Move safely, and try not to trample/push others, but leave as quickly as possible
- Stay as calm as possible, and do not give in to panic. This is easier said than done, but panicking will not help you survive
If you are a Business Owner/Facilities Manager:
- Keep exits and exit paths clear of clutter
- ALL doors should open outwards so that the crush of a crowd can not pin the doors closed
- Install and maintain exit signs and exit pathway markings so that the direction of egress is readily apparent
- Install and maintain emergency lighting so that in the event of loss of power, there will be visibility
- Keep all emergency equipment (including exit doors) in good working order and test them regularly
*Find out more about maintenance & testing in our helpful FAQs.
Unfortunately, the Kiss Nightclub Fire will not be the last club fire, but if we all keep in mind the above safety tips, we can make sure that we do not contribute to another tragic event or do not end up as another sad statistic.
When deciding what type of exit signs or emergency lights to purchase, mounting configuration can play a very important role. To those not familiar with mounting configurations, the terminology can be very confusing. The following photos will help you not only to understand what each term means, but will clarify which mounting configuration is best for your installation.
Flush Mount / Wall Mount:
Does not involve the use of mounting canopy. Units typically have knock-out pattern on back plate to mount directly to junction box. (May also allow for “Ceiling Mount” in emergency light fixtures only.)
Typically requires use of mounting canopy from top of fixture. Some units may further specify Drop Ceiling/New Construction or Sheet Rock/Remodel applications. Use of ceiling mount for exit signage may require double face. (May also allow for “Wall Mount” in emergency light fixtures only.)
Sometimes confused with “Wall Mount”, side mounting typically requires use of a mounting canopy. Canopy is affixed to the side of the unit and then attached to wall. Use of side mount for exit signage may require double face.
Wall Mount Angle Down:
Special mounting configuration mostly limited to edge lit exit signage. May require mounting canopy affixed to the top of the unit and then attached to wall. Edge lit face then rotates down. In recessed applications, the face itself may be curved down.
Commonly used for ceiling mount units in which housing is actually located above the ceiling. Some units may further specify Drop Ceiling/New Construction or Sheet Rock/Remodel applications.
This configuration requires the use of a pendant kit (which may be an optional add-on). Allows ceiling mountable units to be suspended from a high or sloped ceiling to be more visible.
Note that not all installation configurations may be available for every sign, help is available via on-line chat, phone (877-352-3948) or email (email@example.com) from 5am-5pm PST if you have additional questions or require assistance.
The Exit Light Company strives to provide accurate and useful information to our customers and make the online shopping experience a seamless one. As part of a site redesign rollout in June 2012, our product pages were updated to be more user friendly. We have had fantastic feedback with these changes and would like to draw your attention to one of the more recent additions.
One question regularly asked of our Customer Service Team is: Does this unit include a battery? We’ve now provided an easy way to find the answer to this question with each product on our website displaying our “Battery Included” symbol.
The Battery Included symbol will appear on the Features tab of the product page, along with a variety of other symbols representing certifications and other attributes that apply for that product. If this symbol does not appear, the battery is not included (but may be available as an option for that particular product). Don’t forget to check out the Description and Technical Features tabs for additional information on the product. As always, help is available via on-line chat, phone (877-352-3948) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) from 5am-5pm PST if you have additional questions or require assistance in placing an order!
Tragedies such as the Bangladesh Clothing Factory Fire earlier this week highlight the need for emergency preparedness, including proper exit signage and emergency egress lighting. Unfortunately, a number of similar tragedies have shaped the laws and requirements throughout the United States:
- On February 2, 1860 the six-story Elm Street Tenement in New York City caught fire killing 20. This fire along with a similar earlier fire led to a state law, the first in the nation, requiring fire escapes on all buildings over 6 stories, and multiple exits in new buildings.
- On January 13, 1908, fire during a stage play at the Rhoads Opera House in Boyertown, Pennsylvania killed 171, one-tenth of the town’s population. As a result of the disaster, Pennsylvania’s first fire law was enacted in 1909.
- On March 29, 1953, the Littlefield’s Nursing Home Fire in Largo, Florida claimed 33 lives. The fire shocked the community and led to statewide nursing home reforms.
Read about other historical events that shaped fire code requirements in your own state (as well as current code requirements) using our Fire Code Map.
The push to “Go Green” has been gaining steam in the past decade. From small businesses trying to save money on their electric bill to multi-billion dollar corporations needing to meet certain requirements to be labeled “eco-friendly” or “green”, everyone is buying in to the trend. Many power and utility companies offer rebate programs or other incentives for replacing inefficient lighting. No matter the circumstances, there are many benefits to doing so.
This “green” movement has also made its way into exit and emergency lighting. We are often asked for exit signs or emergency lights that carry an ENERGY STAR® rating. You may have noticed that none of our exit or emergency lighting products have the ENERGY STAR certification listed. Why?
The US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) suspended the ENERGY STAR rating for exit signs on May 1, 2008. This was due to new federal standards approved by Congress for exit sign efficiency for units manufactured after January 1, 2006. The EPAct 2005 references the ENERGY STAR version 2.0 specification. In short, all exit lighting produced after this date must have an input power demand of 5 watts or less, thus ending the need for an ENERGY STAR rating in this category.
These requirements have been met by using new energy-efficient lighting sources, most popular being Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs). LEDs have become the main component in exit sign illumination and in recent years have also started replacing incandescent bulbs for emergency lighting needs. You can further research the differences in lighting technologies on our FAQs page. Because of these changes, battery technology has also improved dramatically. Due to lessened power needs, smaller and more reliable Nickel Cadium (NiCad) and Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries have replaced the bulky, less so Sealed Lead Acid (SLA) types. The size and weights of exit and emergency lighting units have decreased tremendously because of this, while still providing equal or, in most cases, increased performance and reliability. Other energy efficient lighting types include fluorescent, photoluminescent, radioluminescent and electroluminescent light sources.
While efficient in power usage, these improvements in lighting technology also lower maintenance costs. LEDs have a lifetime of 25+ years and NiCad batteries hold an approximate lifespan of 5 years under appropriate conditions. Although ensuring that your units are working properly with monthly, quarterly and yearly testing is still recommended (and required in some areas), the amount of time spent replacing batteries and bulbs is significantly reduced. Stay in touch for next weeks blog regarding testing recommendations!
Many of us have been in a situation when the power goes out at home. Sometimes this happens during daylight hours, but it can also happen at night. In most cases power is restored within an hour or two, but in extreme cases the outage may last for several hours or even days. This can be due to storm damage (such as the extended power outages in the Washington, D.C. area recently), rolling blackouts (in place in several states throughout the U.S.) or even massive power grid failures (such as the recent failure of the SDG&E grid last year). In public areas and workplaces, laws require emergency preparedness for the safety of the public, but are you prepared at home?
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster preparedness website ( www.ready.gov ), the following items should be a part of your basic disaster supplies kit: water, food, radio, first aid kit, whistle, dust mask, wipes, wrench, can opener, local maps, cell phones and chargers, AND flashlights. The last item is useful for emergency lighting, which you may not consider in a residential environment. If you have a disaster supply kit, these items will be easy to locate, but what if you don’t? Our selection of residential emergency lighting may be just what you need!
The most versatile of our residential emergency lighting is the EL-3N1 (pictured at right). This light plugs into a standard outlet to operate as a night light. During a power failure, it automatically goes into emergency mode and can remain lit for up to 8 continuous hours or 100 continuous hours if set to “Power Saving Mode.” This unit can also be removed from the outlet and operated as a flashlight. Its flat bottom and side make it easy to stand or lay on a flat surface for convenience. You can also put this fully charged light into storage or a kit for up to 2 months and still be able to use it. Besides being a great option for your disaster supplies kit, it is also a great to keep in your car, boat or RV for camping, biking, hiking or even night-time fishing!
For further options on residential emergency lighting, including options for nursing homes, you can review our full selection here. You may also contact our customer service department at 877-352-3948 for assistance.