Have You Seen the Lightswitch?

Published Monday, March, 2, 2009

Ok, so we all have felt if before, that late night walk to the parking garage, a little anxious, a little nervous. Recently, I walked to my rental car parked in the historical, old town section of Las Vegas and I have to admit, I felt I was taking my life in my own hands, this with friends and family by my side.

What made me fear for my life?

Simple; the garage was poorly lit. What is the first thing you do when you arrive home late at night to a dark house? You turn the lights on. If you are alone, you turn plenty of lights on, even in rooms you don’t plan on entering.

Simple math, simple equation: Lighting = Safety. The most significant thing you can do to improve the safety of your parking facility is to improve the lighting levels. It is important that you maintain the lighting levels for parking structures established by the IESNA. One of the key components of the guidelines is the lighting variance levels. For instance, there cannot be an area of the garage where the lighting level is less than 1/10th the foot candles of the highest foot-candle measurement in the facility.

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It is important to understand that historical lighting technologies of Metal Halide (MH) and Hi Pressure Sodium (HPS) have an abbreviated life over that of the new and current technologies of Fluorescent Induction and LED. Also, the output of the traditional lighting technologies depreciates rapidly in lumen output and they can experience color shifting.

Today’s current lighting technologies all boast very good Color Rendering (CRl) and Color Temperatures. The high CRI numbers indicate the ability of the lamp to deliver performance that renders the true color of objects in the facility. The Color Temperatures, typically, 3500, 4100 or 5000, indicate the whiteness of the output. For instance, you know when you’ve entered a parking facility that is served by HPS lamps that have a low CRI and a low Color Temperature; the facility will have a strong yellow look to it. MH lamps have a very nice initial look, but quickly, turn into a rainbow of colors from blue to purple, etc., as they rapidly depreciate and shift color. Traditionally, lighting levels were measured photopically, which gives a non-subjective measurement of lumen output indifferent to lighting color. Today’s measurement (that is more effective) is to consider skotopic output. The skotopic output more readily recognizes the true ability of your eyes to see in that particular color pattern.

An additional benefit of today’s technologies is the improved effectiveness of security cameras mounted in garages with Hi-CRI lighting. True colors of vehicles, patrons and perpetrators are revealed more effectively under these lamps.

Today’s new lighting technologies also improve the safety of a parking facility because of their increasingly long life. Fluorescent lamps are now lasting twice as long (36,000 hours) as MH and HPS lamps. Induction lamps last six to seven times as long (100,000 hours) as MH and HPS lamps and LED lamps last three to four times as long (50,000 hours). Bottom line here is, how safe is a light that is not lit? Pick a technology that will stay lit longer.

Facility owners and operators are doing an excellent job in making parking garages safer for everyone. Call boxes, security stations, upgraded lighting, security patrols, motion sensors, security cameras, etc. all make parking in a garage a great decision. We all need to be aware that regardless of the efforts garage owners and operators expend, there will always be individuals that will find a way to abuse society in some way. In closing, I have included a nice reminder of things we should consider in our daily parking experiences.

How to Protect Yourself and Be Safe in a Parking Garage

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If you must leave a key with the attendant, leave only your ignition key. Do NOT leave anything with your name and address. Also, keep your return plans quiet.
Don’t park next to a van with a sliding door.
Try to remain in the company of other people you know.
Be suspicious of anyone that approaches your vehicle. Keep doors locked and windows shut at al1 times. Don’t sit in your car once you have re-entered; leave quickly.
Have your keys in-hand with a finger on the panic alarm.
Always inspect your vehicle, scanning the interior and exterior, looking for signs of intrusion.
Park only in a well-lit area. Stay away from areas with lamps that are out. If a lamp that was lit when you arrived is now out upon your return, do not go to your car. Return immediately to the lobby and seek assistance. Carry an air horn, whistle, or other noise maker. Take your purse and other valuables with you. Do not create a tempting target.
Jeff Pinyot is the Vice President of Business Development for ECO Parking Lights. ECO Parking Lights is a manufacturer of lighting specifically for the parking garage industry. Jeff can be contacted at 317.501.2892 or via email at jspinyot@ecoparkinglights.com

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