Date: Fri, 8 Jan 2010 18:05:49 -0500
Reply-To: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
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From: ILPI <info**At_Symbol_Here**ILPI.COM>
Subject: Re: Rec's for Spill Berms/Safety Showers?
Comments: cc: Margaret Rakas
In-Reply-To: <4B4755B2.9B43.00BA.1**At_Symbol_Here**>

First, educate your users that the valves on those are stay open.  If your victims really need to flush for 15 minutes, that's fine - they should do so, but if they are done after 1 minute, the valve can be closed manually by pushing back up on the rod.  Yes, you can close them yourself if the situation is under control, you don't need to wait for an emergency responder.   They're just a simple ball valve: http://www.safetyemporium. com/?04155-A  The pull rod attaches to the hole on the actuating arm, so pulling opens the valve and pushing shuts it.

I never really thought about that in my grad student days.  If I had, I probably could have stopped a shower-induced flood of the several third-floor labs on the east side of our chemistry building.  Then again, we would never have known that the building lists six inches in that direction ;-)

You mentioned floor leaks, so I will just make a few comments on that.  The big difficulty with no floor drains is that the water runs down to lower floors in very unpredictable ways.  I've visited two laboratory buildings that had fires on an upper floor, and the water drained all the way down through the various floors all the way to the basements where, of course, the NMR machine$ were located, trashing those.  The one piece of advice from this is that if you have water-sensitive equipment that could be ruined by a roof leak, fire runoff, or shower discharge from the floor above, construct an interior roof over the equipment.  That could be as simple as a plastic tarp or Plexiglas tent.   Also, whenever possible, make sure equipment such as pumps etc. are raised above floor level, even if only a few inches.  In the flood I mentioned in the last paragraph, the water was up to 4 inches deep.

While I always tell my students that a shower will put out a million billion gallons per nanosecond, the actual number is a minimum of 20 gallons per minute.  So a shower running for 10 minutes will easily put out a good 200-300 gallons.  If you have room to store universal absorbent booms, those can hold up to 70 gallons per bale depending on the size/type/manufacturer.  And, of course, you can contain liquid within those while you're hunting for a giant wet vac.  Which, by the way, is another good piece of equipment to have available in the building.  The only issue will be if there is hazardous waste involved, but that's not the responsibility of the first-on-scene person anyway.

Finally, always stress that whatever damage the shower may do, your health and safety comes first.  Make sure every worker understands that if they think there is a need to use the shower they should use it - they won't be second guessed or billed for water damage.  People have *died* from underestimating the need to use showers and/or modesty/damage concerns.  See http://safe2us

Best wishes,

Rob Toreki

On Jan 8, 2010, at 3:56 PM, Margaret Rakas wrote:


You know the science building, lots of code-meeting safety showers, and of course there are no floor drains....

I can buy spill berms...but does anyone have any other/better responses to what to do when the shower is actually used (not just testing, we've got a device for that).  My understanding is a huge amount of water gushes out, for 15-20 minutes, and I'm assuming the potential for leaks in the floor below is another issue that needs to be dealt with.  Luckily, in my time here we've only had one occasion when the shower was needed, and that was in our 'old' building, but--I'd rather plan ahead.  What DO you do with the water while you're waiting for the hazmat response/cleanup team to arrive?

So if anyone has a recommendation or a "this is what happened to us" story that I could learn from...

Many thanks,

Margaret A. Rakas, Ph.D.
Manager, Inventory & Regulatory Affairs
Clark Science Center
Smith College
Northampton, MA. 01063
p:  413-585-3877
f:   413-585-3786

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