Shishu Sansaar | Interesting to Know

Interesting to Know

Home | Shishu Sansaar | Interesting


Previous | Next

13-Exit is Exiting

You must have seen EXIT word sign, written in big bold red letters, to use for emergency exiting in the USA at every place. The contrast between the letters and its background makes it highly legible. Its color, red, matches with other emergency signs such as FIRE and fire safety devices - fire extinguishers, fire alarm, fire engines etc.

But many other countries use some version of IS standard developed in 1970s by a Japanese designer named Yukio Ota and adopted for international use in 1985 - the "running man" shown in green. Its advantage over EXIT is that it is in pictograph so that it can be understood by everybody and in green - the color of safety as "Go" the world over. While EXIT cannot be read all over the world, unless one knows English language and red represents the danger, alert, halt, or don't color.

Now which one you would prefer - red EXIT or green guy?

EXIT's History
The text based sign was developed in 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in a blaze of Manhattan Garment factory that killed 146 workers. At that time the factory doors were shut, just to keep workers inside so that they don't slip of the factory and the exits were not clearly marked. This event instigated the National Fire Protection Association to develop some kind of criteria for emergency exit signs. They came up with the word EXIT and the never thought of foreign language people who did not know the meaning of exit, so never thought of pictorial expression.

But over the next few decades the designers struggled to develop pictorial symbols for many things, especially where many languages were to be used, so much so that, in 1968, in Mexico Olympics, the American designer Lance Wyman developed a system of pictograms, so comprehensive, that the tickets were nearly textless. Then many pictographs came into existence, but their Exit sign was confusing so the EXIT letter sign remained in use in the USA.

3,300 entries came in for Exit pictograph and Yukio Ota won for his entry. Later he suggested 58 variations of a green running man through a green door. Later he won the ISO competition also over a Soviet entry. The remarkable thing was that both the design were quite similar with a slight difference. Then a single sign was worked out and passed.

Although the USA is not going to replace EXIT sign soon, but the Running Man entry has made its entry in the country. In New York all Fire exits are marked with green Running Man.



Home | Shishu Sansaar | Interesting


Previous | Next

Created by Sushma Gupta on January 15, 2002
Modified on 06/12/13