Japanese overhead small green exit sign with Running Man image moving through doorway

Effectiveness of Typical Exit Signs

It has been found that only 38% of people register the presence of an emergency exit sign during an emergency. Standard exit signage with a running man logo or the words “EXIT”, whether illuminated or non-illuminated, may not provide assistance to a person with low vision during an emergency.

If the person is unfamiliar with the building they may simply retrace their steps back towards their point of entrance via the accessway, which lead them into an unsafe area or an unprotected (i.e. non-fire rated) path of travel. The research undertaken surmises that signage will only effective is people can actually see them and register them.[1] For these reasons it is important to consider all options and strategies to help provide the necessary information to building occupants, which can include dynamic exit signs interacting and responding to directions from the fire control centre, low level signage, photo-luminescence signs and accessible exit sign options.

Within Australia, the BCA has certain requirements for the provision of emergency lighting and exit signage above exit doors and directional exit signage to direct people to the exit. The BCA requirements at present could be seen as being less stringent than is required overseas, where exit doors and egress routes have additional mandated requirements, including other wayfinding provisions, tactile markings and exit signage and stair signage.

[1] Galea, E. 2012, ‘Would You See it?’ Industrial Fire Journal, Summer 2012, pp.12,14-15

Buildings need exit and emergency signs to identify parts of the accessible means of egress. An Accessible Exit Sign Project Initiative.

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