Emergency lights are, as its name suggests, lights that come on in the case of an emergency. It is a lighting device that comes on automatically should a building experience a power outage. It is backed by either batteries or a generator in order to ensure that there will be lighting even though there is no electricity. A large number of commercial and residential buildings have an emergency lighting system in place to ensure that there is sufficient lighting around, in the case of a power outage, to ensure work can continue or the building can be safely exited. South Africa’s National Building Regulations make provisions for emergency lighting in their regulations.

The South African Bureau of Standards, in turn, details what is required of an emergency lighting installation. This is the first of a kind in South Africa and it stipulates that emergency lights should be in place in any premises where there is no natural light or where people work at night. Premises that have sufficient natural light and which are not generally occupied at night do not require emergency light.
While it is important for premises to have emergency lighting in place, where required, it is also important that families have some type of emergency lighting in place in the case of a power outage. Types of emergency lighting range from candles; torches; gas-powered lights or a stand-alone generator. This is put into focus when one considers the high number of load shedding that took place in the past together with rumors that we might be facing further bouts of load shedding in the future.

Natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the Japanese Tsunami have highlighted the importance of emergency lights. Research has proved that people are calmer when there is light guiding the escape route. Emergency lights have been improved on over the years from earlier incandescent light models which were generally dim to the currently used high-lumen lights which are more focused and much brighter. A higher level of light will thus assist one to safely exit a building in the event of an emergency.