Secure locking systems are no less important to public spaces and commercial buildings than they are to residential spaces. But the locks you’ll find in non-residential areas are nothing like the ones in your own house, because most of the locking-devices in public spaces like malls, and schools and other high-traffic areas are also intended to act as panic devices.

What’s a panic device, and what’s it do?

A panic device—exit hardware, exit devices, panic hardware—are spring loaded metal bars that open the door when pressure is applied. You see them everywhere, because they’re a no brainer to use, and the safety features they offer aid in mass evacuation in the event of an emergency. Most all building codes mandate the use of panic devices in public spaces with doors that get used often, I.E out-swinging emergency exit doors with panic-mechanisms exist in just about every school, hospital, office building, shopping center, restaurant, concert hall, and theater. They lower the risk of stampedes and crushing, and most importantly, open immediately once depressed.

The ones you’ll see most frequently include mortise locks, crash and push bars, and of course, alarms.  

Panic Bars:

Made to open one way, exit-only doors that open with a shove, this is by far the most common panic device you’ll see because of how practical it is. A door should still lock, and this does just that, keeping doors locked from the outside until and unless and emergency dictates they open.

There are three different sorts of panic bars, each of them suited to a different kind of door: the push paddle rim device, the cross bar rim device, and the deadlatch push paddle.

The Push Paddle Rim Device:

This is probably a panic device you spot frequently, too! Also referred to as a touch or crash bar, these sit about 40 inches off the ground, and can be placed on single or double doors. Look for them the next time you’re in a stairwell, corridor or walking past a set of emergency exit doors.

The Crossbar Rim Device

Far less common than the other 2, this works the exact same way, except instead of applying pressure inwards to open a door, you must bear down. These can be installed onto metal, wood and even glass, and like all panic devices, keep doors from being opened from the outside unless some sort of special locking mechanism is in place.

The Deadlatch Push Paddle

Unlike most other panic devices, this one isn’t a bar in the least. It’s a particular sort of lock that doesn’t open with a doorhandle or key, but rather by bearing down on a plate in order to free the door’s latch. 

Mortise Locks

Mortise, from the Latin moritare , from morari , “to retain” is much the same in anatomy as it is in carpentry. In anatomy, the mortise is the clamp tibio fibular that meets the articular surfaces of the slope, a tendon. In carpentry, it’s a “hole or recess cut into a part which is designed to receive a corresponding projection (a tenon) on another part so as to join or lock the parts together.” These are an altogether uncommon, different sort of panic device. Big metal locks inserted into the door inside a recess, or pocket: the mortise. They tend to have key cylinders that shut from the outside and/or latches that close them from the inside, improving security by making it easy to leave, but nearly impossible to enter. They’re becoming increasingly more common because they’re robust and more dependable than the locking systems that came before them.

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