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Panic Bars and their Importance in Commercial Property

What are Panic Bars?

Panic bars are also known as crash bars or push bars, and as the name implies, they are a door opener mechanism that functions when pushed on to open a door, often in case of emergency or panic. You’ve probably seen them across the doors of many commercial properties in the Suffolk, Virginia area. They are not only commonly used safety devices, but panic bars are fitted in most commercial buildings to be the main door opener mechanism. This is due to their ease of use, requirements by fire standards, and discreet nature. Most people exiting the door don’t think about a panic bar when they push it; they are used so commonly that most people think of them as the standard commercial door opener.

So how does a panic bar work and how is it put together? A metal bar is installed across any exit door that opens out. This bar has a spring-loaded system so that when the bar is pushed, the door opens and the person opening the door can easily exit. Sometimes these doors are also fitted with emergency exit alarms, and so are only supposed to be used in the case of fire or other emergency. These exits should have clear signs posted declaring them to only be used in cases of emergency or the alarm will sound, so the customer is aware.

Panic bars allow for the free, unimpeded flow of fast traffic in the event of a mass evacuation due to an emergency inside of the building. This in turn reduces the amount of panic that people are feeling because they can see that people are getting out of the building fast and nothing is standing in their way. This mechanism acts fast and allows the door to basically remain open as needed.

Why are Panic Bars So Common?

The fire codes of buildings, an important guideline that commercial properties must follow or face fines or other consequences, is always being updated. Panic bars are mandated by many areas as part of the fire code of commercial properties. Any building that has the potential to contain many employees or customers at one time is usually mandated to install panic bars on all of the exit doors to prevent trampling or other injury if they have to get to the exits in a hurry.

During times of heavy traffic, and sometimes just during general business hours as a precaution, panic bars can be unlocked and retracted which allows free movement of the door itself instead of having to push the panic bar. This process is known as “dogging” and is commonly used. Usually, the panic bar would have to be pushed to unlatch the door. But with dogging, the door can be opened via applying force to any area on its surface. There are safety issues with this, however, as there is a chance the door can get caught by wind or otherwise yanked in the wrong direction.

The Importance of Panic Bars

Panic bars are an often-crucial feature of commercial properties due to the fact that they are allow for the easy exit of customers in the case of fire or an emergency of any kind. They are important because they can prevent injury, such as allowing people out in case of a fire so they don’t suffer burns or smoke inhalation damage.

Even if your building does not require panic bars because of fire code regulations, panic bars may still be an appropriate installation because they are faster and more convenient to use for anyone exiting than having to turn a lever or doorknob. This can be especially convenient in retail centers where customers may have their hands full, as it makes for an easy exit without much effort on the part of the person leaving.

In the case of a fire or other emergency inside of a building, it is crucial that everyone inside be able to exit the building safely. Without an easy exit, people can become trapped, and therefore crushed or injured by crowds. Unimpeded flow through the exits is essential to prevent this type of injury. When an emergency alarm sounds, people have a tendency to panic and want to flee, hence the name “panic bar.” They aren’t as rational as they normally would be and are usually thinking about the safety of themselves and anyone with them exclusively.

Human stampede behavior can occur in these frightening emergency situations, especially if there are many people inside the building when the emergency occurs. Behavior induced by this panicked state combined with insufficient access to easy exits can lead to tragedy, including crush injuries and even death. That’s why fire codes were established in the first place. These codes usually require the amount of emergency exits a building has, and panic bars are an essential part of the equation because they have proven time and again to prevent injury and actually save lives during mass evacuations.

Installing Panic Bars

As you can see, panic bars are a crucial addition to a commercial property, especially one that sees a significant amount of foot traffic on a daily basis. If you are looking to install panic bars on the exits of your commercial property or need the current panic bars repaired or replaced, your next call should be to a local locksmith company like Locksmith 23435 of Suffolk, Virginia. A locksmith can install panic bars on the doors of many types of commercial properties, including:

  • Retail Stores
  • Restaurants
  • Medical Facilities
  • Schools

Any door that will be used an exit for an area that has the potential to contain many occupants at one time should be outfitted with a panic bar for maximum safety, even if it is not mandated by the fire code in your particular area. Newer advances in panic bar hardware have allowed for innovations such as micro bars, emergency alarm input, and key bypass. Your local locksmith expert will be able to inform you of your options for panic bars and which applications are right for your commercial property.