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Where Can I Find Exit Signs?

Enter / Exit / Stairway, Safety Tips

Imagine this. You’re at work; an alarm goes off. There’s a fire emergency, and everyone needs to evacuate. Amidst the blaring alarm, people are panicking and running every which way. You want to get everyone out to safety but find it impossible to calm them down.

Your eyes dart around the room and look for an answer of some sort. That’s when you see it: one of your exit signs pointing to a stairwell. It’s impossible to miss thanks to its bright green LED lights and bold letters.

“Come on, everybody!” you shout triumphantly. “This way!”

You beckon the crowd to come to follow you down the stairs. Now, the crowd becomes more orderly as they calmly follow you down the stairs. They don’t scream or push as they make their way downward.

Exit and entrance signs are more than mere decoration. They can save the lives of countless people in the face of an emergency.

What to Look for in Exit Signs?

You don’t just want exit signs that look good; you also want to ensure they fit into OSHA legal compliance.

If you own a building, exit signs might be necessary to comply with local laws. For example, California building owners need exit signs where possible unless they meet one of few exceptions.

OSHA Sign and Exit Route Standards

First, you must make sure your sign passes OSHA standards (which, luckily, every modern exit sign does). It must be at least six inches high, and the letter strokes must be at least three-fourths of an inch.

Outside of the sign itself, the exit routes must be clear and safe. There should be nothing placed in the route, temporary or otherwise, and proper lighting and marking. Plus, the route should have the necessary safeguards such as sprinklers, fire doors and alarm systems.

Remember that an exit route is simply anywhere that connects the workplace to a safe place. Therefore, every route that can lead people from danger is an exit route and requires an exit sign.

Lettering

Specific lettering guidelines may vary depending on where you work. For example, New York and Chicago both require exit signs to have red letters. Please check local laws for more details.

The exit signs also, obviously, must have the word “Exit.” Ideally, you should have green or red LED lights as sharp contrast makes it more visible. Plus, electrical exit signs also need a battery backup to power them for at least 90 minutes.

Your sign’s letters must be visible, especially in case of smoke that would otherwise obscure it. Interior incandescent bulbs powered early exit signs. Unfortunately, these provided weak lighting and were soon upgraded to LED.

Per OSHA requirements, signs must have at least 5-foot candles worth of illumination.

Other Information

It’s also important to make sure your sign’s arrow is pointing in the correct direction. This might seem like an obvious tip, but it bears repeating for emergencies. People in an emergency are prone to panic and quickly follow whatever information gets presented to them first.

For an added safety measure, you can include a “Not an Exit” or “Do Not Enter” sign wherever you don’t want people to go. For example, an automatic door or elevator might not function properly in a fire, so you want to keep people away from it.

ADA Braille exit signs are highly encouraged for blind occupants.

Finally, your exit signs must have at least 90 minutes’ worth of backup power if the electricity goes out. The emergency lighting must generate at least one foot-candle (or 10.76 of lux) worth of light.

Types of Exit Signs

Exit signs might seem fairly standard, but they come in all variants — mostly electric and glow signs. Your choice depends on your budget and aesthetic preferences.

LED Exit Signs

The LED exit sign is probably the most popular variant and for a good reason too. LED lights are bright but don’t take up a lot of battery power. These exit signs are made of thermoplastic, a kind of plastic that can withstand intense heat.

LED exit signs are by far the most inexpensive variant and last for about five years. They can be mounted via a bracket or affixed directly to the wall. Due to their cheap nature, it’s usually better to replace one than fix it.

Edgelit Exit Signs

When you want to cash out some extra money to be a little fancy, edge-lit exit signs are your best bet. These are typically seen as the most beautiful exit signage, and it’s clear to understand why.

Edgelit exit signs look like they’re both transparent and floating. The row of LEDs at the top shines light into the panel. The sign’s inside has a reflective strip that bounces the light through the letters. The letters themselves are usually carved into acrylic or composed of vinyl labels.

Using vinyl labels helps add a bit of customization to the otherwise standard sign-making process. While you should want to keep the letters as centered as possible, you can place the arrows where needed. This saves you the trouble of having to pre-plan where each arrowed sign should go before you buy them.

On the other hand, engraved enter/exit signs with pre-etched arrows tend to look better and are the choice of most buyers.

Photoluminescent Exit Signs

This is probably the most modern exit sign as it glows in the dark. They’re a great option to light up otherwise dark spaces. Some places such as outdoor venues and roof access areas don’t have easy access to electricity, making photoluminescent exit signs an ideal choice.

These exit signs use industrial-grade pigments which absorb light from the surrounding area. Once absorbed, the pigments then release the absorbed light to glow.

For them to work, photoluminescent signs require at least a minimal amount of ambient light. This light can come from other electric sources such as lightbulbs. Ideally, you shouldn’t filter this kind of light as it may interfere with charging.

Photoluminescent exit signs are popular among hospitals, hotels, universities, and libraries due to their constant charging. These environments are perfect for supplying energy to the sign.

While most building codes require exit signs to illuminate for at least 90 minutes during power outages, these glow-in-the-dark variants can last up to 24 hours. Plus, they can last up to 25 years and use far less energy than any other sign.

Maintenance and Testing

It’s important to regularly check your emergency exit signs to make sure they’re working properly. These check-ups can ensure you’re meeting OSHA exit and entrance sign requirements and that you’ll be prepared in an emergency.

Check-ups involve visually inspecting each exit sign once every thirty days. Look for loose wires as they can mess up the power supply and be a fire hazard.

If you’re using surface-mount signs, make sure they’re securely fastened and won’t fall easily. Check the foundation for cracks or blemishes, which may make the sign unstable.

You should also test the battery backup.

First, the thirty-second test involves holding the “push-to-test” button for thirty seconds. The backup light should come on at the same brightness as the default. Do this once every thirty days.

Then, the ninety-minute test ensures the lights will stay on in an emergency. Push the “push-to-test” button four times. Use a clamp to hold down the button for a full ninety minutes. The light should stay on during the test’s full duration. If not, it will have to be replaced. Conduct this second test twice a year.

Where to Buy Exit Signs

Obtaining the correct exit sign is essential for creating a safe work environment. Not having exit signage could result in strict OSHA fines or putting your occupants in danger — neither of which is an ideal situation.

There’s no better place to buy signage than ComplianceSigns. We offer various signs for all sorts of compliances — OSHA, DOT, NFPA, ADA, state, federal and more. You can buy enter/exit sets that will give your building the proper labeling it needs.

Ordering and shipping are fast and easy, and we offer bulk discounts. Plus, ComplianceSigns has custom signs that aren’t normally available from other retailers. It’s super easy to create, design, preview and order a sign that uniquely fits your needs.

Our top-notch customer service can answer all your questions quickly. They’re friendly, well-trained and always eager to help. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact us at your convenience.

Frequently Asked Questions

Want to know more about our product? Here are some commonly asked questions:

Are Your Signs Made In-House?
Yes. We manufacture nearly all the signs we sell. We do carry some name-band LED Exit signs.

How Can I Find Signs That are OSHA or ANSI Compliant?
Check out our Help Me Choose page for a detailed explanation of each category. You can also read the specifics about OSHA compliance and ANSI compliance on their respective websites.

Do Your Signs Have a Warranty?
Yes. Our signs are free of damage and defects at the time of shipment. If your items arrive defective, we will repair or replace them free of charge. We don’t cover any damage done by the user. Find out more information by reading our warranty policy.

The Importance of Exit Signs

Motivational speaker Denis Waitley once said, “Expect the best, plan for the worst, and prepare to be surprised.”

As a building owner, you must do the same. Nobody expects to be the victim of a fire, earthquake or some other disaster. Yet, these things happen all the time. Emergency exit signs help guide people during stressful times when their lives are on the line. An improper sign can literally mean the difference between life and death.

When the time comes, will you be prepared?

Every building needs top-quality exit signs. We at ComplianceSigns offer the best exit signs money can buy. Protect yourself and your occupants today.