As I was teaching the other day at Solvay High School, one of the students asked me about the eyewash station and if he could rinse his face in it. This was more out of boredom than the fact that he might actually have something in his eyes. I figured I could at least show him how it works and be able to test it as well to make sure it was still in proper working order. They always want to pull the safety shower, but like most schools, the floor drains end up being the highest part of the room and you end up with a big flood instead. When I went to Cornell for research this summer, they even had one in the hallway of all places with no drain at all.
So as I proceeded to test the eyewash station, it came out a lot more powerful than I ever remember any eyewash station putting out water. What was supposed to be a nice gentle flow, was instead coming out about a foot high with much greater speed. The whole point of the station it to get a gentle rinse when a chemical or small object enters the eye. What I was seeing would instead put all the eyelashes into your eye and cause more apparent damage, along with making you completely soaked. I tried to release the floor pedal, which made it worse and more water came out and was going all over the place, including my pants and floor. Upon further looking, I hit the hand lever and was able to get it off, all to the amusement of the students in the class (fortunately there were only 3 present at the time).
After some cleaning up and trying to dry as best as I could with paper towels, I still had some pretty wet pants, which fortunately dried after a short period of time. At least I was able to humor the students and see that the eyewash station put out a good amount of water (potentially good and bad). Hopefully next time, I will put a little less pressure on the eyewash station to prevent this from happening again.
I might as well put this on My Stupid Mistake as it basically was one! This is not the first, nor the last one that will be made, but at least the experience will make me think a little better next time someone asks to try out the eyewash station.