When a plan is drawn up to construct a building, a colony, a bungalow, a godown or an office complex or any closed structure for that matter, one would require a whole lot of permissions, licenses, clearances and so on before one can even begin. Convention thinking says that the formalities can be bifurcated into two broad categories-One, absolutely necessary and two, important but avoidable.

However, the ingenuity of our ‘chalta hai’ culture has developed a third category which is widely resorted to- Absolutely necessary and yet avoidable. And one item that falls squarely in that category is Emergency lights. So, are emergency lights a dire necessity? Or can their installation be termed an avoidable expense?

If one goes by the law, and as mandated by the building code, Exigency options are a must in any closed construction be they accessible emergency exits, alarm systems, photoluminescent signages, markers or emergency lights. And yet, these are often dumped under the third category.

All of us, at some time or the other, have found ourselves in pitch darkness, in power failures. What is our first knee jerk instinct? It is the effort to SEE in that darkness. Of all our senses, the sense of sight is the primary instinct in any difficult or even panic situation. Therefore, if in our effort to see we chance upon a bright light or a sign we rush towards it and look for a way out from there. At home, most of us keep candles or a flashlight in places where we can reach them easily if lights fail. However, if there is no semblance of external light source, we will still need to feel our way before reaching the objective. This only underlines the importance of emergency lighting solutions.

What if we are in a situation more serious than a power failure? What if the cause of darkness or poor visibility is smoke caused by fire? What if panic sets in and in the darkness we collide with obstacles or get caught in a stampede? And what if there is no emergency lighting system installed? How long does it take for smoke to suffocate one to death? The Kamala Mills episode can probably answer that one. But you decide.

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