FORT KNOX, Kentucky -- During emergencies, orange is the new white.

According to Robert Dyrdek, energy manager with the Fort Knox Directorate of Public Works, orange outlet covers within offices identify a unique circuit that may be employed in emergency situations.

"It's wired as a special circuit for emergency power purposes, and allows us to have multiple [outlets] in a room that come from a different power source than the common source," Dyrdek said.

According to an information article by Scott Spyrka, the orange outlets are isolated ground receptacles that can provide electricity directly from a grounding point, meaning they maintain power even if the circuit breaker is tripped or power is interrupted elsewhere.

Because these outlets use power separate from most other wires and are most often insulated, they also prevent background or "white noise," making them ideal for sound rooms, musical theaters, movie theaters and homes with quality home entertainment systems.

The outlets are frequently seen in hospitals, as both emergency outlets and where they are used to power sensitive lifesaving medical equipment that must be isolated from common grounding systems that might interfere with important diagnostic readings.

Dyrdek said the orange outlets at Fort Knox are in place primarily for emergencies.
"[With] a generator hooked up, the orange outlets would maintain power [if] the common outlets failed," Dyrdek said. "It would take a massive amount of electricity to run the whole building, but those [outlets] are isolated from other electric wires. Because there are far fewer of those outlets, you could [power] them from a 5K generator from the back of a pickup truck."

However, there is no harm in using them on a regular basis, said Dyrdek.

"They are nothing different, and can be used the same as any other outlet."