Direction of Arrow on Emergency Exit Sign

Which way should the arrow point you on an emergency escape sign?

Ans: It should point you to the escape route and the path that you should take.

I think we can safely assume that if you see a left or right arrow then you will know which way to go. But what about an up or down arrow? And what should be used above doors?

Emergency arrow direction above a door

The only international standard which provides full guidance on the use of the arrows is ISO 16069 in which it states that ‘straight on’ is depicted by an arrow facing up. BS 5499-4:2013 now supports ISO 16069 in this.

So above doors you should use an up arrow.


If your in a multi story building, say the 3rd floor of 5. You would expect to go down to escape (but not always). So a common sense approach would be to have the arrow pointing down the stairwell. So if you have to use down then you should keep the same theme throughout the building.

It’s not easy to get it right especially when peoples lives are at risk. So we always advise you to go and speak to an expert that will come and assess your building. Your local fire brigade are always happy to help and assist.

What not to do

Do not mix and match signs. Keep the same type of signs and the same theme of arrow direction. Not this as I saw recently.

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