Even when safety regulations are followed, emergencies can happen in the laboratory. Therefore, it is important to know what to do in the case of an accident.
The three most common types of laboratory accidents are chemical spills, fires and explosions, and personnel injuries. In any case, you should always remain calm, contact local emergency responders once you've moved to safety, and inform nearby people of what happened.
Spills are the most common accidents, which we cover in detail in another video in this collection. Fires and explosions typically occur from overheating, spillage of flammable chemicals, or gases exposed to heat, flames, or electric sparks. It's important to operate electric equipment and heat sources safely to prevent fire and explosions.
Personal injuries include a wide range of categories in the lab, such as electric shock, burns, wounds, or chemical exposure. These can be caused by not following correct guidelines, as well as equipment malfunction. Each case requires specific actions, but there are general principles to follow to ensure the safety of the injured party.
Now that you understand some of the typical emergencies causes, let's see how to deal with fires or personal injuries.
In case of a fire involving an individual's clothing, never run as it might accelerate the fire. Stop, drop on to the ground with hands covering the face, and roll to extinguish the fire. If possible, use a safety shower to extinguish the fire. For more information, see our video on safety shower.
In case of lab fire or explosion, ensure your safety first and call emergency responders immediately for help.
If possible, shut down the electric power before evacuating the area. Use a wet towel to cover mouth and nose as protection against heavy smoke.
Pull fire alarms and evacuate the building safely. Use stairs, as elevators could be damaged during operation.
Small fires can be contained with an extinguisher, but it's important to use the correct one, depending on the type of fire. Class A fires involve ordinary combustible solids, such as paper or clothes. Class B fires include flammable liquids and gases, like gasoline or butane.
C type fires are caused by electrical equipment, while Class D fires are combustible metals, like sodium. Finally, class K fires, are grease fires.
Matching the correct type of extinguisher, such as foam, carbon dioxide, or chemical, to the fire on hand is important to avoid spreading and aggravation of flames.
Personal injuries cover a wide range of situations. Always access the situation before taking actions. If the person is conscious, ask them what happened. If the person is unconscious or unresponsive, look for possible signs of injury.
If the person seems to be in danger, call local emergency immediately. Don't move the injured person unless they need to be removed from a serious threat.
If an individual has received an electrical shock, first shut down the power if possible. Use non-conductive material such as wood, glass, or rubber to pull the person away from the electric contact.
If the person is bleeding from minor cuts or abrasions, flush with water to avoid contamination and treat with first aid supplies. For serious cuts, call for medical assistance.
While waiting for assistance, keep the person warm and calm. If you have knowledge and are willing to help, initiate first aid to help.
You've just watched JoVE's introduction to emergency guidelines in case of laboratory accidents. You should now understand what to do in the case of fires, explosions, or personal injuries. Thanks for watching!