Windsocks are a vital instrument which give information about wind strength and direction and can be used in a variety of settings. Perhaps the most recognisable application of a windsock is on the landing strip of an airport, but they also play an important role in many other sectors as well, including the refrigeration industry.
Whereas with aviation, a windsock is useful in allowing a pilot to safely navigate air currents, it can prove an invaluable addition to the health and safety of workers at a cold storage facility. This is because a harmful gas known as anhydrous ammonia is used in the refrigeration process, so wind direction can play an important role in guiding evacuees safely away from the plant in the case of a leakage, thus minimising exposure.
What is anhydrous ammonia?
Anhydrous ammonia (which has the chemical symbol N3H) has a variety of uses, including as a fertiliser and a refrigerant. In meat packing and cold storage facilities, this pungent gas is used to keep the produce cold, but exposure to the gas can be deadly for human lungs. Symptoms include:
- Rapid dehydration
- Severe burns
- Respiratory difficulties
- Irritation of the throat, eyes, and nose
In order to keep it safe, the gas must be stored at a high pressure and anyone exposed to it must undergo treatment involving high amounts of water for at least a quarter of an hour. It can be fatal for those who suffer prolonged exposure at high concentrations.
How a windsock can save lives
As a result of these sensitive chemicals and the potentially life-threatening consequences of an accident, all cold storage and refrigeration facilities must have a comprehensive site evacuation procedure. A vital component of this is having an industry standard windsock installed onsite, to indicate wind direction and speed in the event of a leakage.
As well as assisting with the evacuation process by allowing workers to move to a safe location and minimise their contact with the gas, windsocks can also aid clean-up workers who must safely and responsibly clear up chemical leaks as soon as possible.
For those reasons, it’s imperative that all refrigeration sites incorporate a windsock into their safety procedures and site emergency response plan. For more information on the size, style and ground pole which would be most appropriate for your particular circumstances, please do not hesitate to get in contact with our friendly and knowledgeable team. We’re happy to help!