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August 2006

Hurricane Preparations For Labs

Is Your Laboratory Prepared For A Hurricane?
Laboratory equipment, materials and research can be protected from loss during severe weather events by taking precautions that will minimize the impact of dangerous conditions (e.g. wind, rain) and loss of services (e.g. electric power, heat, air conditioning, water). 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 warning has been issued. Remember, you must take responsibility to protect your laboratory and research.
Before A Storm
  • Prepare for loss of electricity.
  • Check that critical equipment is on building emergency power.
  • Consider a UPS for computers where loss of power will corrupt data or other difficulties.
  • Have a plan for obtaining dry ice.
  • Keep flashlights and fresh batteries in the lab.
When The Storm Warning Has Been Issued
  • Shutdown experiments that could be affected by the loss of electricity or water.
  • Turn off all equipment and unplug. Close all hazardous material containers.
  • Elevate equipment, materials and supplies, including electrical wires and chemicals, off of the floor.
  • Review storage of perishable items and consolidate in units that have backup emergency power.
  • Update emergency contact numbers for your lab.
  • Secure lab notebooks by storing them in water tight containers.
  • Backup critical data on computers and keep the backup copy at a different location.
While The Power Is Off
  • Make sure that any experiments in progress are stabilized and discontinued.
  • Securely cap all hazardous material containers and completely close the fume hood sash.
  • Power off all equipment so it does not re-energize when power is restored to the building. Unplug equipment if possible.
  • Check any equipment on emergency power. It may take up to 30 seconds for the emergency power to kick in.
  • Exit the lab and leave the building.
  • Coordinate the use of temporary emergency power with the Building Manager. Do not bring in electrical generators to operate equipment.
When The Power Returns
  • Reset/restart/check equipment.
  • Check to ensure airflow of your fume hood has been restored.

Find more details and a checklist on the EH&S website Laboratory Safety section.

Please distribute this throughout your department as appropriate.

The EH&S Tip of the Month is a publication of the EH&S Communications Team: Annette Falcetta, Bob Holthausen, Cliff Knee, Joe Daley, Kim Auletta, Lisa Buchter, Lou Mancusco, Mike Seymour, Sean Harling, & Terry Hulse.

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