Having panic hardware on your doors can give occupants inside your building the peace of mind they need in case of an emergency. One of the biggest reasons people get injured during times of emergency is when they stampede in a panic towards the exits.
By having panic hardware installed on the doors, you not only meet various legal requirements that may be in place, but can help limit the risk of potential injuries due to mass exits as people try to get out of the building quickly.
Not all buildings will be required to have panic hardware, though you can opt to install them for safety’s sake anyhow. According to the IBC, assembly and educational buildings with an interior capacity of more than 50 people will require panic hardware to be installed on all exit doors. All high hazard buildings, such as chemical engineering plants, also require panic hardware on all exit doors, regardless of the capacity.
There are other laws that govern the use of panic hardware for specific types of buildings and businesses. For example, facilities with high current electrical equipment typically have their own sets of requirements, as set by NFPA 101 and 70. Speaking with a local building inspector, or your local commercial door expert, is a good place to start when determining your exact requirements.
The Purpose of Panic Hardware
Panic hardware is also sometimes called egress doors or fire exit hardware. The purpose of this installation is to secure an exterior door with a lock, but to also provide a very obvious and convenient way to get the door open in case of emergency.
Even if your building does not meet the capacity requirements in which panic hardware is a necessity, you can still choose to install it on your own.
Panic Hardware Considerations
With installed panic hardware, it should not take more than 15 pounds of force to open the door. Individuals of all ages and physical abilities should be able to press on the panic latch and get the door open in a very quick and efficient manner.
Additionally, when installing panic hardware on a door, this should be the only latching device present. Installing panic hardware on a door that also has a deadbolt, electronic latch, or chain closure can delay the opening of a door increasing the likelihood of injuries during emergencies.
If you install panic hardware on an exterior door in your location, you need to be sure that both the hardware and the door meet tornado or hurricane testing standards in your area. This may vary from location to location, but helps ensure building security even during high winds.
Types of Panic Hardware
There are three common types of panic hardware you can add to your exterior doors. Each of these options may or may not be better suited for your specific type of door or building. If you’re not sure which hardware is the best for you, you can either contact the IBC and ask for recommendations or view the panic hardware options are similar buildings in your area.
- Touch Pad. Probably the most common style for most buildings. It can be flexible when it comes to installation size and electronic options.
- Crossbar. Extremely common on glass doors and in many educational facilities. It is normally better for mechanical operation than electronic options.
- Recessed Latch. One of the lesser used options as it requires the door to be modified, but provides a greatly reduced profile projection.