Smart Emergency Lighting Solutions for Hospitals
Nowhere needs effective emergency lighting more than a hospital. Should an evacuation be required during a power outage, emergency lighting is essential to get vulnerable patients safely out of a building with which they are unfamiliar. Advances in technology now mean that new emergency lighting systems, such as smart LED emergency lighting, is not just more effective but brings a raft of other benefits too. Here, we explain why LED emergency lighting is the best solution for hospitals.
The role of emergency lighting
An effective emergency lighting system not only needs to help staff, patients and visitors see a way out of the hospital; it must guide them to the nearest safe exit and make sure they don’t come to harm as they make their way. A hospital can be a complex building to navigate, especially for patients and visitors that are unfamiliar with its layout. This makes low-light evacuations particularly hazardous, as people leaving in a hurry can be injured by obstacles in the corridors or by each other. An effective emergency lighting system not only helps prevent these hazards from arising; it also ensures that those entering the building to help evacuate patients can do their job safely.
As hospitals usually have a large number of emergency lights, a key challenge for estate managers is to ensure that they all work properly. Carrying out regular tests and maintenance can be an arduous and time-consuming process with so many lights, especially when some of them will be in hard to get to, heavily used or restricted locations, like A& E, operating theatres and x-ray rooms. As maintenance teams often need to prioritise the testing of critical systems and essential medical equipment, it can be an uphill struggle to ensure emergency lighting testing and maintenance regimes are adhered to.
Regulations for emergency lighting
The UK has some strict regulations governing the installation and testing of emergency lighting systems. British Standard BS5266, with which hospitals must comply, covers four key areas: where emergency lights should be located; the type of lighting required; how long the lights must stay on for during emergencies (usually 3 hours); and the frequency that they are tested.
The testing frequency includes a monthly functioning test for every light and an annual, full system inspection conducted by an approved electrical contractor. To comply with regulations, hospital estate managers must also keep records of the tests and of any maintenance carried out to keep the lighting in full working order. Non-compliance, either to do the testing or keep records, can result in significant fines and, in some instances, prosecution.
How hospitals benefit from smart emergency lighting
Not only do the latest smart LED control systems solve many of the emergency lighting compliance challenges for hospitals; they reduce both energy costs and maintenance workloads, while helping the hospital become more sustainable.
LED lighting assists compliance by providing emergency illumination above the minimum of one lux, together with a backup source of power that will maintain lighting for at least the statutory minimum period in the event of a mains failure. LEDs stay lit for longer than other bulbs during emergencies and testing because they use up to 80% less energy and so their backup batteries drain far less quickly.
The lifespan of an LED bulb, on average 50,000 hours, is also substantially longer than that of the fluorescent or incandescent bulbs found in traditional emergency lighting. This means there is a decreased chance of failure, less frequent replacement and reduced maintenance time.
The LED bulb, however, is only part of the solution. Another vital component is the advanced control system that makes use of the integrated sensors and self-testing features of the modern LED fitting. This enables each emergency LED light to test itself to ensure its bulb, charger and battery are working effectively. If a problem occurs, a built-in indicator light flashes a signal that tells maintenance staff exactly what the fault is. On more advanced systems, sensors are used to communicate this information directly to the centralised system and maintenance staff receive immediate notification. As a result, hospitals don’t need to wait for a monthly functioning test to discover a faulty light. From a maintenance perspective, this self-testing feature vastly reduces the amount of work needed to test the emergency lighting, as employees just need to look at the indicators instead of putting every light into outage mode.
Reduced energy costs and improved sustainability are other reasons to choose LED emergency lighting. Using up to 80% less energy than traditional bulbs, LEDs can significantly cut lighting bills and provide hospitals with savings that can be ploughed back into frontline services. That reduction in energy usage also means a substantial decrease in the hospital’s carbon footprint, helping it work towards the government’s net-carbon-zero target.
The latest LED emergency lighting offers hospitals a range of important benefits. Modern, centralised systems that incorporate long-lasting and energy-efficient bulbs, built-in testing features and smart sensors help to make hospitals a safer place. In addition, they help estate managers achieve compliance, minimise maintenance, cut overheads and reduce carbon emissions.
For more information, visit our LED Emergency Lighting page.