Tepid water’s importance for emergency showers and workplace safety

Tepid water can prevent further injury to workers in conditions that are often harsh and dangerous and can make situations worse if not properly treated.

By Christine Tarlecki May 16, 2024
Courtesy: ThermOmegaTech

Workplace safety insights

  • Emergency showers and eyewash stations, equipped with tepid water, ensure effective decontamination, compliance with regulations and preventing further injury.
  • Tepid water, crucial for extended flushing durations, aids in swift chemical removal, reducing the risk of thermal shock and injury.

Emergency showers, facewash stations and eyewash stations are essential for prompt decontamination in workplaces prone to chemical spills or exposure to hazardous materials. These stations, strategically located in areas like power plants, industrial facilities and labs, allow individuals to rinse off harmful substances in emergencies.

Tepid showers are critical in protecting personnel and complying with regulatory requirements. If a person’s body and eyes are exposed to a corrosive and dangerous substance at work, they need instant access to a water supply to saturate their bodies and flush their eyes. A consistent flow of tepid water from emergency showers and eyewash stations prevents thermal shock or burns and ensures effective flushing without discomfort.

Tepid degree water is defined as having a temperature between 60 to 100 ºF (15.6 to 37.8 ºC). This temperature range is considered suitable for providing comfort and preventing further injury when using an emergency shower, facewash or eyewash station after bodily exposure to hazardous materials.

The ANSI Z358.1-2014 standard is a guideline for selecting, installing, operating and maintaining safety showers, facewash stations and eyewash stations. The standard states where emergency fixtures need to be located, the required spray patterns, minimum flow rates, water temperature requirements and the time the water needs to be supplied.

Many facilities have emergency fixtures. These include laboratories, chemical, petrochemical, pharmaceutical, manufacturing plants, agriculture and mining facilities, oil refineries and educational facilities.

Types of tepid water systems

Various tepid water systems for safety showers, facewash, and eyewash stations are available. These include mixing valves for hot and cold-water supply lines, turnkey systems with pre-packaged, self-contained heating and mixing valves, instantaneous electric heaters and steam-fired heaters.

Implementing a system that automatically delivers tepid water ensures employees are safely drenched, eliminating risks of scalding or hypothermia during emergencies. This enhancement bolsters safety and provides immediate relief, fostering a secure working environment.

ThermOmegaTech’s Therm-O-Mix steam-fired tepid water delivery system uses existing plant steam and water to supply face/eyewash stations and safety showers with tepid water.

ThermOmegaTech’s Therm-O-Mix steam-fired tepid water delivery system uses existing plant steam and water to supply face/eyewash stations and safety showers with tepid water. Courtesy: ThermOmegaTech

Four reasons why emergency showers need tepid water

Having tepid water readily available from emergency showers is essential to operator safety. Temperatures too high could burn the employee or open their pores, allowing dangerous substances to sink into their skin. Too cold water can lead to hypothermia or shock. Here’s why tepid showers are crucial:

  1. Effective decontamination: Tepid water is optimal for flushing chemicals or contaminants from the eyes, face and body in case of chemical spills, splashes or exposure. It helps dilute and remove hazardous substances more effectively than water that is too hot or too cold, aiding in rapidly removing contaminants to minimize potential injuries.

  2. Compliance with regulations: Many safety regulations and standards, such as ANSI/ISEA Z358.1, require tepid water in emergency eyewash and safety shower systems. Compliance with these regulations ensures facilities provide appropriate emergency response measures to protect workers’ health and safety.

  3. Extended flushing duration: Tepid water encourages longer flushing durations, as individuals are more likely to endure the discomfort of flushing contaminants from their eyes or skin with water that is neither too hot nor too cold. Longer flushing times enhance the effectiveness of decontamination and reduce the risk of injury. The tepid water temperature ensures the injured person can endure the recommended 15 minutes of continuous flushing.

  4. Preventing further injury: In cases of chemical exposure, using tepid water for decontamination helps to prevent thermal shock, which can exacerbate injuries and increase tissue damage. Tepid water promotes gentle yet thorough flushing to minimize the risk of further injury to affected individuals.

Author Bio: Christine Tarlecki works in marketing at ThermOmegaTech in Bucks County, PA. She has over 20 years of professional writing experience, with over five years as a professional writer in the manufacturing and plumbing & HVAC industries.