When workers are subjected to hazardous chemicals or liquids in their day-to-day role, regulations state that adequate emergency decontamination equipment is quickly accessible to anyone who has been contaminated.
In addition, the importance of tepid water in treating someone has grown. Whilst it was only introduced to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) requirement list in 1998, in 2014 they dictated specific flushing temperature parameters for the use of tepid water, defined as between 16 – 38 degrees Celsius, running for at least 15 minutes.
Tepid water is recommended for a number of reasons, some obvious and others more complex.
Let’s begin with how our bodies react to a variety of water temperatures.
Cold Water (16 degrees Celsius or below)
If a person is doused with cold water, the body’s initial reaction is a “gasp” reflex which can include muscle spasms and hyperventilation. Cold-water shock can occur in temperatures below 15 degrees Celsius or lower and is experienced within the first minute of exposure.
This can result in the inhalation of water and causes changes to the heart rate and blood pressure. The skin and body temperature decline and contraction occurs to conserve warmth. Superficial blood vessels begin to narrow and there is an increased flow of blood to the organs and heart, ultimately meaning it must worker harder. Within 10 minutes of exposure to cold water, you will lose the good use of your fingers, arms and legs and are potentially headed towards hypothermia.
Bear in mind that a person who has used emergency decontamination equipment may likely be outside and have their wet skin exposed to a variety of temperatures. A post –contamination space that is warm is essential.
Hot Water (38 degrees Celsius or above)
When a person is doused with hot water, heat causes the blood vessels in the skin to dilate, known as vasodilation. As a result, blood flows from the major organs, blood pressure drops and the heart has to compensate by working harder, causing strain. Even within a healthy person, this change in condition can result in light-headedness and fainting. Loss of consciousness in an emergency decontamination scenario is incredibly dangerous.
When the body is overheated, the dilated skin vessels may allow a body to lose too much internal heat following dousing. This, in turn, can result in hypothermia should the outside temperature be low or the body’s thermoregulatory mechanisms do not compensate quickly.
So how do you provide workers with an adequate and safe solution? At Empteezy, our SE-VTS-1 ANSI compliant tank shower is ideal for remote workers who may not have access to running water. With a capacity of 2000ltr, enough to offer a 75.7lpm for 15 minutes, it allows a flow of tepid water to be operated hands free once activated. Additionally, there a range of options, including a local or remote alarm system to warn of water temperature issues,
Of course, certain chemicals can react negatively to water; tepid, hot or cold. It is imperative that before decontamination begins, the chemical in question is identified and the correct approach is taken. There should never be any doubt, and a google will not suffice. Make sure you have the advanced knowledge of a chemical or first aid professional to be sure the correct approach is taken.
For information on compliant solutions, why not get in touch?
- Identify the chemical in question before beginning the decontamination process
- Tepid water is crucial to the safe decontamination of workers
- Too hot and you risk fainting or adverse reactions to certain chemicals
- Too cold and it could result in hypothermia or cold water shock