Wm. Whitely Limited designs and manufactures interior signage, including security signage, as well as complete wayfinding and sign systems for both existing facilities and new buildings. Over the past five years alone we have successfully completed well over 100 signage projects. Our clients include healthcare facilities (nursing homes, Long term Care and hospitals); colleges and universities; airports and transportation terminals; hotels and public buildings.
Security Signage: one of the building blocks of a wayfinding system
Wayfinding or sign systems specified for commercial, industrial or public buildings generally include the following four primary sign classifications:
- Directional (point the way todepartments or services, etc.)
- Informational (hours of operation,departments and services available, etc.)
- Identification (company, department orindividual’s names, room numbers, etc.)
- Security (emergency procedures, health alerts, etc.)
Of all a building management team’s responsibilities, safeguarding public health and safety is unquestionably the most important and urgent. Advance planning for emergencies or temporary situations includes establishing procedures, making sure that roles and responsibilities are well defined and understood, providing necessary training on procedures and the use of equipment, and communicating effectively with everyone potentially affected should an emergency occur. One vital aspect of communications is posting information concerning either a potential emergency (i.e. fire evacuation routes, location of emergency equipment, etc.) or an actual situation (i.e. current health alert, security restrictions, etc.). Having appropriate signage or sign holders available is one important way that building management can increase confidence and ensure that public safety and security doesn’t look like an afterthought.
Some examples of Security Signage
The following are some typical examples of security related signage:
- Building evacuation plans (i.e. Emergency Exit, Evacuation Procedures, etc.)
- Advice of videosurveillance (i.e. camera symbol and text ‘Area Under Surveillance’)
- Resident Collection Areaor Resident Gathering Area
- Emergency Telephone
- First Aid Kit
- Hand Washing Station
- Eye Wash Station
- Temporary medical alerts(i.e. No Visitors – TemporaryQuarantine, etc.)
- Floor Slippery When Wet orWet Floor
Although the examples above primarily refer to signs specified for inside use, security signage is also often required for exterior applications. These include such things as traffic control (i.e. parking restrictions related to emergency vehicle access, etc.) or the location of emergency equipment such as fire extinguishers, water connections, etc.
Considerations for specifying Security Signage
1. What should the sign say? What symbol should be used?
While the wording of some security-related signs may be developed to address a particular situation, most follow common protocols with respect to text and/or symbols or are required to conform to local Fire or Building Code Regulations.
2. Is the sign’s text permanent or changeable?
Most security signs have messages which don’t change over time and so can be considered to have ‘permanent’ text. Where the sign message does require changes or updates from time to time, the text would be considered to be ‘changeable’. This distinction around the requirement for updating has implications in terms of choosing the type of sign holder to be used. When messages may need to be changed, questions to ask include how easy will it be to service and update the sign’s message; what equipment and training will be needed to produce updates; and whether building staff will be able to do this or will updates need to be produced by special order.
3. Is the sign holder tamper-resistant? How securely can it be installed?
Because of the critical purpose they serve, security signs require controlled access to contents, ideally through the use of a special tool or key. Installation (i.e. height, method of fastening to the wall, etc.) should be done in a way that discourages attempts to remove or damage signs.
4. What looks best – plain or fancy?
One final thought is that sign holders tend to give the most flexibility when they’re minimal or neutral in appearance. This lets the sign fit in with a range or interior or exterior finishes and also lets the message, not the sign holder, do the talking.