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Industrial Safety Showers and Eye/Face Washes for Hot Climates
Working with hazardous chemicals is a huge health and safety challenge, in part mitigated by the provision of essential emergency shower and eye wash equipment. However, add in the issue of high ambient temperatures and supplying suitable decontamination solutions becomes more complicated.
International and European standards for safety showers and eye/face wash equipment, ANSI Z358.1-2014 and EN 15154, specify that water delivered by an emergency safety shower must be tepid. Tepid water is controlled within a fixed temperature range. For the ANSI standard this is stipulated as 16C to 38C (60F to 100F) and for the EN standard this is 15C to 37C (61F to 99F.)
In hot climates, where high ambient temperatures are common, the water in safety showers can easily become overheated above tepid temperatures. Solar radiation can quickly heat the water within the pipes of the shower or the mains supply, making it unsuitable for decontamination as it could cause further damage to a casualty, adding temperature burns to their chemical injury.
Due to the heat, blood vessels close to the surface of the body dilate to allow more blood flow in the area. This process removes heat from the skin and prevents the core temperature from rising too high. It also directs blood away from vital internal organs and causes cardiovascular strain. In a chemical spill or splash situation this process allows more chemicals to be absorbed through the skin, worsening the injury and causing potential internal damage. In addition, on realising the water is too hot, the casualty jumps out of the shower early, leaving chemicals on their skin and/or clothes. This residual chemical can still cause tissue damage.