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Understanding Tempered Water Systems
August 03, 2012

Tempered Water Systems for Emergency Safety Showers and Eyewashes

submitted by Greg Miley, Encon's Midwest Regional Sales Manager


In 2009, the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) published the revised standard (Z358.1-2009) for Emergency Eyewash and Shower Equipment to incorporate a delivery of tepid potable water at a temperature range of between 60 -100 degrees F°. Many companies have expressed increased concerns regarding their ability to provide adequate emergency treatment for worker exposure to hazardous material splash and/or spray. Safety industry and medical experts agree that victims of these incidents should receive immediate flushing of the exposed area with potable water from an emergency shower and/or eyewash to eliminate or at least minimize the effects of the hazardous material. By mandating this temperature range, the worker is protected from possible hypothermia on the lower end of the range and possible eye or skin tissue damage on the upper end.  Tempered water delivery systems must also comply with all other components of the standard such as minimum flow rates of 20 GPM for the shower and .4 GPM for the eyewash and a flushing duration of 15 minutes or more.


Numerous types of tempered water systems are available but it is critical to choose engineered solutions that are cost effective and designed to deliver the required compliance standards taking into consideration multiple factors such as available potable water sources, electrical classifications, space restrictions and extreme thermal protection issues. Additionally, systems may be designed to provide tempered water to multiple shower/eyewash locations to optimize the required capital investment.


Encon Safety Products offers an extensive range of tempered water products as well as engineering expertise to assist customers in implementing the most efficient system possible based on the unique facility requirements at each site. The Encon engineering staff will use customer site specifications to recommend either a facility wide solution or one that addresses a need in a single operating area. While Encon tempered water solutions vary with site requirements, the central element is the patented Saf-T-Flo® blending system that is used exclusively to manage tempered water delivery. Unlike many products that have been designed for multiple tempered water applications in both home and industrial settings, the Saf-T-Flo® system was developed strictly for emergency shower and eyewash usage. The system blends existing hot and cold water supplies to a pre-set, non-adjustable, usable and safe temperature of 85 degrees F°. It is electrically controlled and has multiple fail safe features such as a factory preset thermostat and a normally closed hot water solenoid that cannot fail to hot water. Response to any upset condition is virtually instantaneous because of electrical rather than pressure dependent controls and sensors found on many competitive mixing valves. 


There has been much discussion in recent months of the use of instantaneous water heaters for emergency shower and/or eyewash use. There are competitor products available for individual or multiple units that use plant supplied steam to heat the water but both the steam and water pressure must meet very strict tolerances while maintaining a consistent and safe temperature range. These solutions can be quite challenging and should only be considered where steam supply is very reliable, and are more commonly used where several appliances are serviced on a recirculating loop.  Other instantaneous systems available in the marketplace are similar to those being used for residential applications, which are devices electrically powered and heat the incoming cold water supply for delivery to the shower and/or eyewash appliances. However, because of the high amperage draw needed to heat the high volume of water required, the available wiring may well have to be upgraded to accommodate this increased load level when the appliance is in operation; Thus, with continual use, the required electrical power may prove to be very costly.


In addition to the Saf-T-Flo® blending system, Encon Safety Products can provide both plumbed and stand alone (air driven) tempered water systems on either open skids or in freeze protected enclosures for outdoor applications. Systems typically utilize a hot water tank, the Saf-T-Flo® blending system, a shower/eyewash appliance and options such as freeze protected enclosures and alarm systems. In situations where needed, booster pumps and/or re-circulating pumps will be added to the design. Tempered water product details may be viewed on the Encon web site at  Encon Safety Regional Sales Managers also provide site surveys and work closely with engineering, safety, and purchasing personnel to develop solutions appropriate for specific customer applications.


Contacts for your Regional Sales Manager may be found on the web site or Customer Service may be contacted at 1-800-283-6266.