An exit light or exit sign is displayed in a public building or facility and demonstrates the location of the closest emergency exit. In most cases, public health and safety codes dictate that such signage is required to be permanently lit. In case of a power outage, your exit lights must be equipped with a battery backup to ensure that they stay illuminated at all times until power can be restored.
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With the exception of the USA, Australia, Hong Kong, Philippines, and Singapore, exit light signs are pictograms. This is to ensure language barriers are crossed in the most simple of terms and in the name of safety, especially in the midst of chaos.
So, why hasn’t the US jumped on the pictogram safety sign bandwagon? Well, US regulations currently require (with an exception for certain circumstances, only) a text-based emergency sign and using a pictogram style sign would instantly throw whoever installs them in their building(s) out of compliance with fire codes - which can spell all sorts of trouble for the offender. Non-compliance of building codes can land a building owner or landlord in some serious hot water, too, and for good reason. After all, safety first! The last thing anyone wants is to be responsible for injury or loss of life due to confusing or missing safety signs. This is why it is so important to ensure your exit lights are fully functioning, have battery back up in case of power loss, and are frequently checked!
Did You Know?
Lene Hau, a physicist at Harvard, discovered how to verifiably stop light completely in its tracks. Completely, totally, 100% stopped light from moving! How incredible is that?! In 1999 her work on the subject resulted in slowing down a beam of light to a mere 17 meters per second, and further research enabled her to stop it entirely by 2001. Keep in mind that light travels at 299,792,458 meters per second, so to figure out how to stop it from moving at all is quite the feat!
Stopping light may seem like it has very little practical applications at face value, but work led by Hau based on these experiments translated to the transfer of light into matter (something you can touch), and then back again into light. Hau and her team literally took a beam of light, stopped it, turned it into something tangible, and then turned it back to its original state. The scientific implications of such an incredible achievement are far-reaching and will have a significant impact on the world for generations.