Emergency Drench Showers: The Ultimate User's Guide
The Ultimate Guide to Emergency Showers
This guide is designed to tell you everything you need to know about emergency showers, including emergency shower types, materials, regulations and more.
What are they for?
Safety showers are used in emergency situations such as chemical spills where the user has been contaminated by a toxic, corrosive or otherwise harmful substance, such as the following:
- Petrol and diesel
- Molten metal
- Certain organic compounds (e.g. carbolic acid)
- Organic acid halides (e.g. acetyl iodide)
- Organic halides (e.g. chloroform)
- Alkylating agents (e.g. dimethyl sulphate)
- Certain halogens (e.g. bromine, chlorine, iodine and fluorine)
- Dehydrating substances (e.g. quicklime)
- Oxidizing agents (e.g. hydrogen peroxide)
- Strong bases
- Strong acids
Safety showers are designed to discharge water at a specific rate and for a specific amount of time in order to thoroughly drench the user and remove as much of the harmful substance as possible. In an emergency scenario, they can save the user from life-changing injury, permanent scarring and disfigurement, and even death.
Who needs them?
Emergency drench showers should be installed in any setting where harmful substances are used. These are some of the sorts of venues and workplaces where safety showers are necessary:
- Chemical plants
- Industrial laboratories
- University laboratories
- Chemical plants
- Petrol stations
- Agricultural sites and farms
- Universities, schools and colleges
- Processing plants
The above list is not exhaustive; emergency drench showers should be installed in any venue where dangerous substances are used.
Safety shower types
Emergency showers come in four basic types: ceiling mounted, wall mounted, floor mounted, and combination units. Each type has its own benefits and drawbacks, and one is not necessarily better than any other; it all depends on the venue in which the shower is going to be installed.
Ceiling mounted emergency showers
Ceiling mounted showers are - unsurprisingly - designed to be hung from the ceiling. This gives you the freedom to locate them close to particularly dangerous areas of your workplace, although this makes them inappropriate for larger venues with high ceilings.
Wall mounted emergency showers
Wall mounted showers are fitted horizontally to a wall. They are probably the easiest to install, but also offer the least flexibility - especially when you consider that the ANSI regulations (see below) require safety showers to be located no more than a ten second walk away from hazardous areas. For that reason, wall mounted safety showers are best suited to smaller workplaces.
Floor mounted emergency showers
Floor mounted showers, also known as freestanding showers, are designed to be mounted into the floor of your your workspace, meaning that they can be installed almost anywhere. Floor mounted showers are useful for the largest venues, especially those with wide ceiling or complicated layouts that would prevent the use or either wall or ceiling mounted showers.
Combination showers comprise both a safety shower and eye wash station. Although you may be tempted to use an ordinary drench shower for eye wash purposes, the water supplied is of too high a pressure to be used for eye washing, and could cause further injury. As such, combination showers are an economical alternative to separate drench showers and eye wash stations.
Safety shower materials
Emergency showers are normally constructed from a combination of four main materials: galvanized steel, stainless steel, ABS plastic and chrome-plated brass.
Galvanized steel is prized for its ruggedness and anti-corrosive properties. It is used for the pipework of many of our drench showers, such as our freestanding safety shower.
Stainless steel is similarly resistant to corrosion, and even tougher than galvanized steel, although it is also more expensive. Our range of stainless steel safety showers represent the ultimate in durability.
ABS plastic can be formed into many different shapes and is available in bright yellow to aid visibility - see, for example, our wall-mounted ABS plastic drench shower. Galvanized steel and stainless steel can both also be made bright yellow through the process of powder coating.
Chrome-plated brass is mainly used for components such as ball valves, owing to its strength and durability.
Safety shower regulations
The ANSI Z358.1 regulations govern not only the way in which safety showers are manufactured, but also how they are installed and used - meaning that you, as the end user, have a responsibility to ensure that any safety showers you purchase are used correctly.
The regulations state that emergency showers should be positioned on the same floor and no more than a ten second walk away from hazardous areas, and that the route should be free from any obstruction. All emergency equipment must be clearly labelled - most products come with built-in high visibility signage, although you may also wish to provide signposting to make the equipment even easier to find. To find out more about what you need to do to be compliant, visit our Guide to ANSI Regulations.
Finally, a safety shower or combination unit can also be complemented with a drench hose. While drench hoses should never be used as replacements for safety showers, they can be used to provide a localised stream of water to target specific areas of the user’s body.
They are also useful for drenching injured parties who are unable to reach a safety shower because they are incapacitated or immobile as a result of their injuries.