Hospitals are very critical facilities that cannot afford to operate without adequate supply of water. In order to maintain a daily patient care program effectively, every hospital ought to have an emergency water supply (Hall & American Institute of Architects, 2010). The plan must consider tank storage capacity robust enough to respond and cover for water deficits that might be occasioned by interruptions to the normal supply.

Depending on the size of the facility, the level of water consumption per day varies considerably. The main water uses in a standard hospital will include kitchen uses, food preparations, laundry, facility cleanliness, personal uses for drinking and hygiene, medical procedure as well as sterilizations. At the same time water is used for gardening and emergency fire sprinklers (Raju, 2007).

There are many more uses apart from the few cited above. Before any health care facility can be able to put in place an adequate water reservoir, they will need to conduct a water use audit to determine the actual or estimate daily needs. Thereafter, make a projection or analysis of the emergency supply alternatives.

It is important to note that irrespective of the chosen mode of water storage, experts do not recommend water stagnation as this might influence microbial activity. Stagnated water lowers in quality as bacteria may grow and contaminate the supply. The storage capacity should be able to allow for continuation of flow while assuring water security for the duration of the anticipated interruption (Tusiani & Shearer, 2007).

While opting for an underground tank, one must choose the material that is not permeable. One is at liberty to construct a concrete tank or acquire an already made steel galvanized tank. The actual size and holding capacity in terms of gallons or cubic meters can be determined once the water use audit is conducted.

The recommended capacity should be at least equivalent to the need for 12 to 24 hours water usage. Ensure to make adequate consultations with the Distribution Company to seek guidance and subsequent approval (Raju, 2007). The tank storage capacity will vary also due to specific site conditions.

Ground storage tanks requirements

Having a reliable emergency water supply alternative to the regular flow is essential. This is more important in health care facilities than other places. Depending on the way the construction is built, the anticipated number of people and the daily measure of the water needs, it will help to determine if the required storage would be best for underground or roof top reservoir.

In a hospital, where it is preferred to have an underground tank, all efforts must be made to ensure that the tank is located away from sources of pollution. The tank must also be away from drainage systems as well as be fixed in a manner that will allow for repair and maintenance personnel to access it with ease.

The most important element is ability to preserve the quality of water without being affected by either coloration or scent while in storage. This can be achieved by making mandatory consultations with the supply company and following their required guidelines for safety installation. It is imperative to follow the advice to acquire readymade tank or ask for their supervision in construction of own tank at the premises.

The pipefitting should not leak as well as withstand pressure during pumping out of the water. The facility which has 3 floors, with about 1500 people in need of supply, requires a pump that will be able to drive water to the highest point and with sufficient flow pressure. The capacity and size of the tank should be adequate to meet demands.

Exact measurements and specification can be derived from water engineers to suit the purpose of the hospital. The placement should provide for an overflow allowance to avoid flooding the hospital basement. The tank has to be fitted with float control valves that regulate inflow level of water to the tank. The tank should be away from the designated parking area as vehicles may spill oils and hydrocarbon substance that can contaminate the water.

The relevance of water storage

To be able to execute a thorough water supply guide as an emergency operation, the hospital administration must know certain facts. First is their daily water demand; they should examine available options for alternative sources as well as have an effective team to develop the backup plan. There are many events that can lead to interruption of regular flow (Challa, 2009).

For example, hurricanes, earthquakes and tornadoes can destroy critical components of water plants. During the hurricane Katrina, a hospital in Mississippi lost supply for 18 hours, while another hospital in Texas lost supply for about 48 hours due to ice storm, which led to power blackout that affected a water plant as well.

A hospital with about 1500 people is quite big and will need an integrated plan that can outline all equipment, processes, and sections that use water. This should include also mentioned locations of plumbing fixtures. It is also necessary to have an elaborate mechanism to prevent back-flows.

The hospital must engage experts to main maintenance of the system to ensure smooth operations. All crucial supply pipes ought to be fitted with valves necessary to regulate the flow. The storage facility must be designed in a manner that allows for repairs and maintenance without having to drain the tank.

Having an idea of the estimated quantity required for the various functions of the facility is of greater importance. The hospitals attendants will have to priorities on the more essential functions at the facility that would require water in times of emergency. The objective is intended to clearly spell out which functions must continue and which can temporarily be suspended during emergencies.

When normal water supply is interrupted, a hospital must determine which services to cut for the duration of the interruption. The storage tank should have accessories that that can shut off supply to buildings that do not perform critical functions. Doctors can also opt to postpone hydrotherapy treatment as well as resort to sponge-bathing patients.

Hospital fire fighting reserve

In hospitals just like in any other places, fire emergencies can occur. Even though the most modern facilities are fitted with fire sprinklers, sometimes the incident might not be controlled by this method. This necessitates the facility to have a backup water reservoir for fire emergencies.

The size of the reservoir tank will largely depend on the hospital size too. In some countries, the department concerned with water supply or the fire fighting departments or civil defense has suggested recommendation on this matter. For example, the department of civil defense in Abu Dhabi has recommended that for a facility on a three storey building will require a minimum water reserve of 2000 gallons for emergency at any given time.

They recommend that if the building is up to seven floors, then minimum reserve should be in the range of 3000 gallons. However, these suggestions are based on hose-reel. Sometimes the building might have been fitted with fire sprinklers hence the required reserve might be higher than this. Building owners should consult with relevant authorities for clarification.

Another recommendation is to avoid allocating this reserve separately. It should be within the same storage tank but devise a way to maintain the lower limit as back up for fire emergencies. Technicians and experts in this field are available to offer further guidance on this aspect depending on local regulation in city of residence.

It should be clear that these recommendations of fire fighting reserve are not always enough to handle fire outbreaks. There are instances where the outbreak may outdo the reserve. However, this is only meant to help control an emergency as the professional fire fighters are yet to reach the scene. Every building and hospital facility must have elaborate evacuation plan in such situations.

Storage tank construction

The choice of the material for the construction of underground water storage tanks varies. In consideration to the holding capacity and size, one can opt to use concrete, stainless steel, galvanized steel or even reinforced plastics. Again due consideration is made on the actual site and the way the tank is intended to be placed.

A reinforced plastic tank can be used where the underground compartment to hold the tank is cemented. Alternatively using stainless steel tanks could me more viable when the tank is to be buried. The other factor to consider on the material choice is ability to withstand corrosion. The material must be viable enough to maintain water quality without affecting color, taste, scent or toxicity.

The actual specifications may vary from one place to another due to considerable differences in temperatures and weather patterns. For instance, in the Gulf countries where they experience characteristically higher temperatures, the standard requirements will differ from those in areas like Florida. A tank buried in an arid location must be able to withstand the heat as well as keep the contents at reasonable temperatures to avoid microbial activities.

When material like steel is used to make tanks, it is necessary to use galvanized coated steel because in itself steel is not resistant to corrosive activities. A restriction is placed on using substance like coal tar to coat the storage tanks. It is a punishable offence to disregard any safety standards as set by regulating authorities in the city of residence.

For maintenance purposes, all tanks with capacity to hold over 100,000 liters shall be partitioned. This is designed to facilitate servicing and maintenance without interrupting normal supplies. The partition makes the mother-tank appear to have smaller individual sub-tanks within. He partitioning is designed in a way that all sections can complement the other.

Water demands and sizing criteria in a hospital

The demand for water in a normal hospital set up extends from the use in kitchens, laundry or the urinals and toilets. Water is needed for maintaining personal hygiene, food preparations, drinking fountains, used for medical processes like hydrotherapy, decontamination of hazardous materials and maintaining cooling systems like the gas and suction compressors.

In a normal outfit all these functions are necessary. However, they vary considerably in priority, especially, during emergency water shortage situations. The hospital administration needs to outline clearly some policy guidelines that will help workers to execute efficient water use policy at times of emergency.

There are a few strategies that can be employed to respond in times of water supply interruption as the facility is trying to recover and operate optimally. One way is to reduce or cut off supply to sections that are not seriously affected by lack of water. For example, instead of using water and soap for washing hands, the staff and patients can be provided with water-less hand hygiene alternatives.

Such measures will contribute positively toward emergency water conservation. The measures can also include canceling or re-scheduling elective medical procedures that may need water, using sponge-bathing methodology on patients as well as use of disposable sterile supplies. When the condition is anticipated to last longer, then one should resort to shutting off supply to sections that do not undertake critical functions (Hall & American Institute of Architects, 2010).

These are handy tools available. But as the nature of business in hospitals is usually very critical, administrative official can look up to alternative sources of portable water. Bottle water for use by patients as well as availing supply from water trucks is advisable (Gupta, 2006). Limiting the use to only essential sections will help the hospital to cope at least until the normal supply resumes. It is very important for any healthcare facility to develop necessary emergency water supply plans well in advance before the shortages hit.

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