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Hotels: Dynamic and Adaptive Signage

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It’s no secret that large scale hotels have a serious evacuation problem and the majority of the exposure to this issue is revealed through social media. When there is a real fire or even a practice fire drill, people live tweet or post to facebook.  Social media posts may go along the lines of, ‘it was a nightmare’, ‘people were queuing down the stairs’, ‘it took us 45 minutes just to get out of the building’. `If it was a real fire everyone would have been burnt alive.’

Does this sound familiar? Let’s discuss how Evaclite solves this issue.

Why is emergency evacuation such a huge issue in hotels?

There’s a definite divide in hotels between the large scale and the small and the old and the new. A lot of old hotels are built with a maze of corridors, with multiple exits and multiple staircases. Practically, you may start to think, ‘that’s great, there are more escape routes’, but in reality, it’s extremely confusing and can cause panic in a real emergency evacuation. Typically, when you haven’t been to a hotel before, almost without exception, you’ll go out the way you came in, it’s human nature.

Everybody knows that you shouldn’t use a lift in the event of a fire, but generally there is also a staircase situated next to a lift and one you may have used already, so you head towards that. You’ll come up in a lift or a staircase off reception and therefore go back out the same way. The problem is EVERYONE heads toward this single staircase and single escape route

Relying on this natural behaviour is where we can get into trouble.

The larger newer hotels will have multiple exits, and so the nearest, quickest and safest route to get out of the building may be away from the crowds heading in the direction of the lifts.

Let’s consider the newer big hotels, with 1,000 rooms and long corridors often 100 yards long.  The issue arises when the fire alarm signals, you come out of your bedroom door and without looking (or thinking) you turn right and make your way back to the stairs, near the lift where you came in; 100 yards away, when actually there is a nearer, quicker exit  10 yards around the corner to your left.

This is because you didn’t see or notice the exit sign pointing left to the nearest exit . Up until now, this has just been the way it is, this combination of what is called ‘learned irrelevance’ and the instinct to go out the way you know, can be the cause of bottlenecks in corridors and stairways, panic and reduction in evacuation times. But Evaclite offers a solution.

How do dynamic and adaptive signs solve the problem?

It all comes down to two key factors – ‘increased affordance’ (you can see the sign clearly and quickly) and confidence (the dynamic pulsing green arrow emphasises the best route out).

Relying on our human instinct isn’t enough but with the use of dynamic signage, you see the signs quicker, you are given clear instruction and you can make your decision with confidence. This speeds up the evacuation process and in a large hotel with multiple corridors and exits, this will reduce the bottlenecks. People will now disperse to the nearest exit, as guided by the signs, instead of returning to the first exit they can think of, inevitably being the way they came into the building.

Dynamic signs will give you a clear indication to the nearest exit, but if the nearest egress routes become compromised, because of either the initial or a developing hazard Evaclite signs become ‘adaptive’. They can adapt facilitated by the  ’cause and effect programming’ via the fire panel which identifies via sensors or human instruction that an exit route is now compromised and the emergency exit sign will change from green to red – indicating a negated exit route – alternate safe exit routes will then be highlighted via the green dynamic flashing signs – thus preventing guests exiting towards the known hazard.

Real life application: Large scale Hotels

With Evaclite emergency exit signs, hotels now have a solution to what could quickly become a dangerous evacuation problem.

Evaclite is working with many hotels, but the biggest problem is in the biggest hotels. New Hotels with more than 5 storeys and with 300+ bedrooms often have 3 exits per floor, with one next to the lift.

You can immediately see where the problem lies. During the event of a fire drill, people automatically gravitate towards the exit near the lift, because this is the way they entered the building. This can cause a backlog of 30 minutes or more to exit from the top floors of the hotel as they queue to get to and down the stairs yet people are often oblivious to the fact that there are two more exits at either end of the corridor. This is where the natural human response takes over, we’re programmed to both follow the crowd and go out the way we came in.

The successful modern hotel businesses put the customer experience at the forefront of everything they do.  they do a lot of brilliant work around hiring and training great people, providing state of the art facilities, luxurious rooms and quality food. Safety too is now also being added to that list as a must have and Evaclite dynamic signs is a  significant element of this adding another service to uphold that valued customer experience reputation.

How will it work?

The Fire ALARM sounds You come out of your room at the hotel into the corridor, you look to the right and you see an exit sign with an arrow pointing to the right, if you look to your left you’ll see an exit sign pointing to your left. Both are viable exits, but, which one is closest? At this point, we don’t know. Evaclite can solve this problem through dynamic 3-pulse array dynamic exit signs. In practice, If you left your room and turned right, looked towards the lift and it’s 50 yards away, it will be a standard, passive (no flashing indicator), illuminated sign. However, if you turn left, where the staircase is just 15 metres around the corner, it will be a flashing green arrow within the exit sign, so the sign is now dynamic. If your bedroom is halfway along the corridor, both the exit sign to your left and the exit sign to your right will have a 3-pulse array green arrow, if you’re nearer to one exit than another, the sign to the nearest exit will become dynamic.

So, it’s obvious that due to the sheer scale and size of new hotels, there will be an issue evacuating quickly and efficiently in an emergency.

However, there is an easy solution and that is Evaclite’s dynamic and adaptive emergency exit signs. It’s time to leave passive static signs in the past and move on to a safer and more visible form of emergency exit signage with dynamic and adaptive emergency exit signs fully integrating into your existing Fire Evacuation Systems. 

 

Want to discover why hotels are making the move to dynamic and adaptive signage?

Download our free eBook: ‘Dynamic Emergency Exit Signage: Why the time is now for the hotel sector’ to discover the wider problems facing hotels and how they deal with some very practical customer experience issues.

Download the eBook


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