Laboratory Emergencies

Laboratory equipment, materials and research can be protected from loss during emergencies, by taking appropriate precautions that will minimize the impact of dangerous conditions resulting from fire, severe weather, utility failures or loss of services (e.g. electric power, heat, air conditioning, water, etc.)

Prepare a lab contingency plan that meets your specific needs. This plan should be shared with your lab, your department and your Building Manager for inclusion in the Building Emergency Plan. The plan should be implemented whenever a severe weather event has been issued. Remember, you must take responsibility to protect your laboratory and research.

The following documents may be useful to you in preparing your lab for emergencies:

For more information on laboratory emergencies, please click one of the following links:

Laboratory Shutdown Procedures

These procedures should be implemented whenever a severe weather event threatens laboratory operations, or when directed by the University's Emergency Management system.

  • Shutdown experiments that could be affected by the loss of electricity, water, gas or other services.
  • Close the sash on all chemical fume hoods in the event that ventilation is lost.
  • Remove all infectious materials from biosafety cabinets, and autoclave, disinfect, or safely store them as appropriate.
  • Ensure that all chemical, biological, radioactive materials and hazardous waste containers are properly covered and sealed.
  • Ensure that all gas valves are closed.
  • Turn off all appliances, computers, hot plates, ovens and other equipment.
  • Review storage of perishable items. Consolidate valuable items within storage units that have backup systems or store items in duplicate locations as appropriate. Review safety precautions for the use of alternate cooling methods (e.g. liquid nitrogen, dry ice, etc.), if used.
  • Ensure that water reactive chemicals are in sealed containers and stored in areas that are unlikely to become wet.
  • Check that all gas cylinders are secured. Remove regulators and install transport caps where possible.
  • Elevate equipment, materials and supplies, including electrical wires and chemicals, off of the floor, particularly in lower elevations that are prone to flooding.
  • Close all doors, including cabinets, storage areas, offices and utility chase-ways. Lock all exterior lab doors before leaving.
  • Secure lab notebooks and backup critical data on computers.

Refer to Hurricane Preparation Checklist (above) for more details.

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