Connecticut schools teach children to recognize alert systems, and routinely practice Fire Drills during the school day.
But what about at night, when after-school activities like plays or concerts, or basketball and volleyball games are going on? We know there are red exit signs above doors. But in a fire, thick smoke can block these signs, and darkness can cause confusion for students and teachers scrambling to get out.
By law, schools are required to provide a lighted pathway to exit the building. Cost-conscious districts may be drawn to “glow tape” because it is an inexpensive option. But what schools may not always take into account are the maintenance costs: the entire length of glow tape requires light to charge it and keep it lit – which means lights have to stay on, so there will be higher utility bills. But an electrically-lighted exit-path system only uses electricity when it is on, and just a very small amount to charge its battery back-up, which makes electrical exit-path lighting more energy-efficient and less expensive over time.
Electrical exit-path lighting is also measurably brighter than glow tape, and clearly visible in broad daylight. Because it is plugged in, the electrical exit-path system is always ready; when on, it can stay on indefinitely; and the built-in battery back-up keeps it fully lit for at least four hours in a power outage. The electrical exit-path system can be tested anytime by a switch, so students can see how it works and know how to follow it in case of an emergency.
It is important to get all the facts before installing any school emergency system. We want our children to do their homework and make educated decisions. We should be sure our schools do the same.
Check with your school administrators to review the emergency exit-path lighting in your schools. For more information visit: http://www.ct.gov/dcs/lib/dcs/office_of_state_building_inspector_files/2009_amendment_final_unformatted.pdf(Chapter 10, 1026.5, 1026.5.1), and www.egressmarking.com