If you’ve ever been in a large office building, school or shopping center, chances are you’ve either entered or exited the facility through a door that has been fitted with a panic bar. Also known as “crash bars” or “panic bar doors,” panic bars are a huge asset in the case of an emergency situation. Specifically, they consist of a spring-loaded metal bar that is installed horizontally across the inside of a door. When this bar is pushed or activated, the door is unlatched, thereby allowing easy, fast access from a facility, as the door opens outward and not inward.
We’ll get to the benefits of panic bars in a minute, but first it’s important to note why they’re necessary in larger facilities. Think about what happens in crowded facilities whenever there’s an emergency – people usually panic and run for the exits. However, having the wrong types of doors installed in a facility can actually do more harm than good in an emergency situation. That’s because if you have a hoard of people running for the exit and the person at the front of the group needs to abruptly stop to pull a door open or twist a doorknob, there’s bound to be not only a great reduction in the speed of evacuation, but also the potential for falls, injury and crashes as a potential logjam at the exits form and the evacuation becomes a disorganized mess.
Panic bars actually came to be based on several tragedies in history, notably an 1883 incident at Victoria Hall in England, when 180 children died because they were unable to exit the facility properly. Domestically, over 600 people died in a fire at the Iroquois Theater in Chicago in 1903 when they were unable to exit in a prompt manner.
So now that you know a bit about why panic bars are necessary and how they work, it’s time to get into the benefits of these types of accessories. Here’s a look:
One of the big benefits of panic bars is how safe they are, both in terms of streamlining evacuation, as well as in non-emergency situations. For instance, since panic bars are installed on the inside of the door, the door can remain locked to everyone on the outside to prevent unauthorized access to facilities. Furthermore, panic bars can also come equipped with an alarm system, so building supervisors are able to detect any unauthorized evacuation. However, to ensure the proper working of panic bars, it’s worth noting that they should only be installed by a locksmith or a commercial locksmith.
As we hinted at in the above point, there are several types of panic bars to choose from. There are those that come with an alarm to prevent unauthorized exit, cross bar type panic bars and even vertical type exit devices. They come at all different kinds of price points, which allow facilities to acquire the type of panic bar that meets their requirements as well as their budget. Speaking of budgets and price…
When you consider the cost of new doors, appliances and services that a locksmith specializes in performing, panic doors are comparatively inexpensive. While the best models are likely to cost upwards of $300, you can find other models for less than $100. What’s more is that if you need multiple panic bars installed, the commercial locksmith you’ve hired will likely be more apt to offer some sort of discount on the total cost of parts and labor.
- Decreased insurance rates
Building and property managers are always on the lookout for ways to improve building safety and security – but at the same time, they have budgets that they need to stay within, too. Panic bars, however, can be a win-win for these professionals. That’s because the proper installation of such devices can actually lead to a decrease in the insurance premium on the facility. Just as how enhanced safety features on an automobile often comes with a premium discount, the same can be said for properties.
So while panic bars can help reduce the insurance premium, building and property managers shouldn’t stop there to make their facility safer and save insurance money in the process. Things like carbon monoxide detectors, smoke alarms, good lighting in hallways and walkways, child-safe window hardware, portable fire extinguishers and a sprinkler system can also go a long way toward increasing safety while reducing insurance costs.
- They’re effective
We already spent some time talking about the purpose and value of panic bars in facilities, but it’s worth mentioning again, as if they were not effective, they would not be advised by – and for some facilities, made mandatory – by OSHA. Think about some of the emergency situations that have occurred over the past several years – the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy out east, the Boulder, Colorado movie theater shootings.
It’s very likely that these tragedies could have been even more tragic if the schools and movie theaters that these events occurred at were without panic bars on the emergency doors. It’s always advised that people “stay calm” in the event of an emergency, but staying calm is not always practical when faced with an unexpected incident. Panic bars, essentially, allow for a faster, more effective way for people to evacuate a facility – and that can be the difference between life and death in many cases.
While many types of facilities are required to have panic bars installed on emergency exits, now is the time to analyze your facility and its evacuation protocol to see if the building in general, or any of its doors not currently equipped with panic bars, could benefit from their installation. It’s never fun to think about an emergency situation taking place inside your property, but being prepared for such a situation is always better than not being prepared.
For more information on panic bars and the role that they can play in your facility, contact us today. We can install a panic bar in your commercial facility! Give us a call at (610) 644-5334 or send an email to [email protected]