Whatever happened to …

… red exit signs?

You know.  Signs that looked like this.


Photo Credit: Dyvo Flickr via Compfight cc

Or the corresponding French version that read Sortie in red.

I visited a friend in a local hospital this past week and am still not comfortable with small changes like this.  Particularly with hospitals that are “built by committee”, it’s often a mish-mash of wings and levels and doors that don’t go anywhere that the general public should be going.

I remember the first time that I saw the “new” ones.  I thought, because it conveyed a sense of urgency and was obviously unisex, that it pointed to the washrooms.


Photo Credit: Browserd (Pedro Rebelo) Flickr via Compfight cc

But no, this is your new directional instructions about how to exit a building.  When I think about it, it’s usually thought in conjunction with what to do when a fire breaks out.

Apparently, it’s done in a sense of being global.

Ontario’s new green exit signs follow international design

It’s been made part of the building code.  Of course, you have to immediately ask a couple of questions.

  • Why?
  • How much is this going to cost us?

And, around here on Sundays, we like to answer such socially important questions.   So, over to you, dear reader.

  • Think about your last 24 hours.  Did you see:
    • a red exit sign?
    • a green exit sign?
  • Do you think that the old red exit signs look kind of dated?
  • What colour of signs do they have in your school?  If they’re red, is there a plan to move to the green?
  • Do exit signs ever wear out?
  • If having exit signs are so important, why don’t we have them in major gathering spaces of people like supermarkets or casinos?
  • Do you feel this was a burning problem that needed to be solved or is it a case of the government babysitting us?

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Please do so in the comments below.

If you’re into this sort of information, you’ll love the Wikipedia page devoted to exit signs.

Do you have a longing for signs like this?


Photo Credit: doug mcneall Flickr via Compfight cc

This is part of a regularly Sunday series called “Whatever happened to …”  If you haven’t, visit that link and enjoy the posts from the past.

And, if you have an idea for a new post, please add it to the Padlet.  There must be something that’s gone missing that you’d like to see discussed!


2 thoughts on “Whatever happened to …

  1. While I’ve seen pictures of the green ones, I’ve only seen the red ones “in real life” as our students say. While I know that red often communicates urgency or importance, I agree with your thoughts on the green signs. They almost tell people to run out of the exits, which is exactly the opposite message you want to communicate…especially in the case of an emergency. The green colour seems calming, but the message does not. If we were in school this week, I’d show our children these green signs and ask for their feedback. They’ve been really interested in reading signs. I think about the implied running message on the green sign, and what this would mean in a school, where we’re always trying to emphasize walking in the hallways. Does just this make it a lost cause? Thanks for the additional food for thought. I always enjoy these Sunday posts!



  2. If I could figure out how to do it, I would add a photo of the Sortie sign across the room from me right now. It’s red. I don’t think the green signs register with me the same way, although I do appreciate the effort to be non-language based. Red, to me, signifies importance and urgency. However, it also means stop, which doesn’t help in this context. Hmmmm. What happens if you’re colour blind?


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