Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Standard exit sign emergency flash pattern

Have exit signs flash brightly in case of fire
  [vote for,

Oftentimes in fires it can be difficult for people to see exit signs because of smoke. I would suggest that if there were a standardized flashing pattern for exit signs, it would be possible for people to see and recognize the flashing in visibility conditions which would otherwise make detection difficult. There are three factors in favor of flashing:

(1) While a fire may make it difficult to notice the solid red glow of an exit sign, it is unlikely that the fire or anything else would be mistaken for the exit sign's particular flashing pattern; even if the smoke was too dense for the word "EXIT" to be read, knowing that the exit was there would suffice.

(2) Flashing objects are more effective at grabbing attention than steadily-lit objects of the same brightness, but can often be made brighter than steadily-lit objects.

(3) If the exit signs included battery backup units, flashing would require much less power than steady illumination for a given level of visibility.

supercat, Oct 03 2003

Directional Sound Evacuation system http://www.soundalert.com
Does what it says on the tin [oneoffdave, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 17 2004]


       Well, the flashing might be a good idea, but how would you make it trigger? I assume you don't want the sign flashing all the time. Perhaps it should be wired to the same system that triggers the fire alarm?   

       Mind you, talking about the alarm system. Shouldn't the exit sign have a distinctive sound as well, so that visually impaired (and those blinded by smoke) have a better chance navigating towards it.   

       By the way, in Sweden (and I think other countries as well), the EXIT-signs are green, not red)
Brummo, Oct 03 2003

       In Europe all 'safe-state' signs (those relating to exits, refuges, first aid and the like) are green. Red is reserved for signs relating to fire fighting equipment.   

       The frequency of the flashing would have to be carefully selected to avoid triggering photo-sensitive epilepsy.   

       Some researchers at Leeds uni (I think) have devised an exit system that uses sound to guide people out of the building.
oneoffdave, Oct 03 2003

       When I was in London, green EXIT signs indicated exit routes which were available to the general public for egress at all times. Red EXIT signs indicated exit routes which were only available to the general public in case of emergency, and were often accompanied by non-illuminated yellow "Way Out" signs which indicated the recommended non-emergency mode of egress.
supercat, Oct 03 2003

       In France they say SORTIE, which I thought meant bathroom. So I went through the Sortie door and found myself outside, blinking in the sunlight. I figured it was the men’s room.
pluterday, Oct 03 2003

       I have seen "fire alarm" strobes, but often not associated with exit signs. I am aware of no standard which indicates that a particular flash pattern (e.g. two rapid [pause] two rapid [pause] one rapid [pause]) will be used on exit signs and nowhere else.
supercat, Oct 03 2003


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