The words ‘hazardous area’ themselves send us in a state of alert. And when the words ‘emergency lighting’ is combined with it, we cannot help but put our total attention to it.
Yes! Emergency lighting in a hazardous area is a serious aspect which demands complete attention. Read on to learn various aspects associated with it.
Why is emergency lighting important?
Emergency lighting of hazardous areas is a critical aspect. A hazardous area is a space with a high risk of explosion due to the presence of gas, dust and other flammable materials such as an oil rig, chemical plant, garment factory and others. Emergency lighting activates when there is a power failure in a hazardous area due to any reason.
Most hazardous areas (such as oil rigs) are characterized by an unstable power supply. This increases the importance of emergency lighting all the more. When the mains/AC power source fails, emergency lighting provides the much-needed illumination, thus ensuring the continuation of normal operations.
The other aspect which makes emergency lighting an indispensable aspect of hazardous areas is safety. Safety is of utmost importance in these areas, which contain a high risk of accidents. When the main power is lost, the chances of accidents and injury rise significantly. This is where emergency lighting comes into play helping the workforce to operate safely.
Things to look for while choosing emergency lighting
Deciding on an emergency lighting system for a hazardous area is not an easy task. Several aspects need to be considered while making the decision.
a) Performance of luminaire
The most common ways to measure the performance of a luminaire are its duration of illumination and light output provided during an emergency operation.
- Duration: By duration, we mean how long an emergency light source can provide illumination when the original power source fails. Most emergency lighting is powered by a battery which has a limited power source. This means that they can provide illumination only for a limited period until the main power source comes back or an area is illuminated. The required time for any of these operations may vary from one site to another. Hence, it is essential to understand the requirement and choose the emergency luminaire which meets the requirement.
- Output: The output of an emergency light source is equally important. Each operation in a hazardous area will have a minimum light requirement, no matter what the source of light is. Hence, when the main power fails, the emergency power should be able to provide this minimal level of lighting. Moreover, various operational aspects may have emergency lighting standards, which the emergency light should comply with.
b) Other factors
Apart from performance, one should consider a few other factors as well:
- Instant restrike: The term emergency means that such situations arise without any warning. In such cases, the emergency luminaire should be able to light up instantly. Any delay may cause crucial loss to human lives and property.
- Maintenance: Emergency light sources usually require more maintenance than non-emergency lighting mostly because we want them to be ready for use all the time. However, the amount of maintenance required should not be unnecessarily high.
- Presence of visual aids: The presence of visual aids is a great way to decrease the effort of maintenance of an emergency light source. A self-testing feature indicating the health of the battery can be of great help to the maintenance team.
Maintenance of emergency lighting
While we are on this subject, let us see some important aspects related to the maintenance of emergency lighting.
Inspection and testing
We have mentioned earlier that routine maintenance of emergency light fittings is of extreme importance. Inspecting and testing them is the best way to do so. If done frequently, inspection and testing can improve the performance of the emergency battery and preserve its life significantly. This will also eradicate the chances of the emergency luminaire not working during an emergency – a situation which should be avoided at all costs.
Another significant aspect related to maintenance is storage. These lights are used only when the main power source fails. And such incidents may not occur often. Hence storing the lights correctly is of immense importance.
However, one risk with not using emergency luminaires often is the risk of the battery getting discharged. And this can stunt the battery performance and life significantly. Hence, disconnecting the batteries while storing them can help combat this issue. It will prevent the battery from getting drained out.
Putting special care into choosing and maintaining the emergency lighting system can pay off in the long run. Emergencies require serious attention, and so does emergency lighting.