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Emergency lighting is used when there is an interruption in electricity. A generator or alternate power source powers the lights. A built-in circuit ensures that the lights are activated when the standard electricity current is not provided for a predetermined time frame. The frequency of emergency light testing depends on the environment, probability analysis and plausible alternatives. These three factors are critical to the decision regarding emergency lighting testing.
The environment both inside and outside the building is a key factor in the frequency of testing requirements. A building located in an urban center with access to both emergency services and other people should be tested at least twice a year. A building in a rural location, with limited access to support services should be tested every three months.
The building use is also a critical factor. Hospitals, jails, schools and public buildings should be tested at least once a month. They are central services that provides emergency services. Public buildings can be used to shelter citizens if they are fully powered by emergency power. High-rise apartment buildings should test their emergency systems every two months.
A risk evaluation calculates the risk and compares it to the cost of frequent testing. Determine the worst-case scenario if the power is out for an extended period, ranging from one full day to one full week. Then identify the risk or probability of this occurring. Weigh these two factors together to determine the priority of this type of testing.
Plausible alternatives must be part of the criteria when determining the frequency of testing. Work closely with the buildings in the local area to identify the type of emergency lighting and services available. The frequency of the testing can be reduced if local alternatives are available. Coordination and communication is essential in this type of approach.
Emergency lighting systems provide limited lighting, as they are reliant on a local, limited power source. The lights are most frequently placed around the outside perimeter of the building, in stairwells and hallways. The purpose of these systems is to provide sufficient light for people to leave the building.
As part of the emergency lighting test, be sure to test the bulbs themselves. These minor issues have a huge impact on the effectiveness of these types of systems. Check the wiring of the emergency lights once a year, at minimum. Work with local emergency service providers to ensure that all related systems are checked at the same time.