No matter what kind of building you manage, you must maintain multiple safe and efficient means of egress for your occupants. Egress is essential to protecting your occupants from harm when they need to exit your building in a hurry.
Below, we’ll discuss what means of egress are, how they become obstructed, and how to maintain safe and efficient egress out of your building.
What Are Means of Egress?
Means of egress are continuous and unobstructed paths of travel from any point in a building to an exit out of that building.
How Egress Becomes Obstructed
Egress often becomes obstructed when the exits are poorly placed, or the path to the exits is not well lit. Occupants should never be forced to walk through a kitchen, storeroom, restroom, workroom, closet, or similarly tight, secluded space to reach an exit. Additionally, if exit access doors (the doors leading to exits) and exits themselves are not designed and arranged to be recognizable, egress can be severely impeded. To keep exits visible, never place hangings or draperies in a position that blocks or obscures them.
How to Maintain Safe & Efficient Egress
Develop an Evacuation Plan
Having a plan in place will decrease confusion and panic when an emergency occurs. If occupants know where the nearest exits are, what their means of egress will be, and the protocol during an emergency, they will be able to exit with greater speed and safety.
Your evacuation plan should include all of the following:
- Accommodations for persons of all abilities
- Multiple ways out of the building
- Posting emergency egress signage around the building
- Clearly marked exit paths with luminous egress markings along the path
Once your plan is complete, you will also need to educate occupants about the plan and hold drills to ensure everyone can follow the plan effectively.
If you’d like expert guidance on your evacuation plan and training for your occupants, check out TFP’s safety program development services.
Maintain Clear Paths to All Exits
Do regular checks to ensure egress pathways do not have litter, clutter, and debris that could stand in an occupant’s way. If you will not be handling these checks yourself, assign this task to a trusted member of your staff to ensure paths remain clear.
However, some obstructions can’t be easily moved, like pillars and standpipes. Mark these obstructions with luminous egress path markings so occupants can avoid injury during emergencies. Luminous markings are ideal because they keep the obstruction visible in dark or low-light environments. They work by absorbing light from external sources, which keep them lit when all other lights lose power.
Need luminous markings for your egress pathways, but not sure which marking to choose?
Install Sufficient Emergency Lighting
During emergencies, buildings often lose power. A lack of light causes increased panic for your occupants and difficulty for emergency responders. To ensure everyone gets out safely, your exit pathways must be lined with adequate emergency lighting.
If you manage a high-rise building, international building, fire and life safety codes require luminous egress path markings. These markings must be installed along the egress pathway and on step edges, handrails, and exit doors. As discussed above, luminous markings must also be placed on any exit path obstructions.
Ensure All Exits Are Clearly Marked
The final key to maintaining safe and efficient egress is to ensure all exit doors are marked and easy to see. Remember to remove any obstructions or decorations that block your exit markings. And you must place “not an exit” on any doors that your occupants could easily mistake for a way out.
Your exit markings should be large with strongly-contrasted letters stating “Exit.” Additionally, your final exit doors – the last doors an occupant passes through before exiting – should have the emergency exit symbol.
Need your exit lights tested to ensure they are visible and up to code?
Now you know how means of egress become obstructed and how to remove those obstructions. You also know the steps to maintain safe and efficient egress out of your building. With this knowledge, you can create an even safer and more prepared environment for your occupants.
The next step is to implement these strategies. But it can be difficult to know which markings to purchase, where to place them, and how to install them. You’ll also need to ensure you’re following all national and local emergency exit requirements every step of the way.
For over 20 years, TFP has helped hundreds of building and facility managers like you select, install, and maintain emergency egress lighting and markings tailored to their building’s exact specifications and unique needs.
Curious how we can help you and your building?
Learn more about our photoluminescent lighting and egress products and services, emergency exit light testing, and safety signage.