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Ah, labs.
We LOVE labs.
They’re the best part of science: the whole doing part.
And since you’re probably going to be doing some amazing science labs this year, we thought
we’d outline a few major points of general lab safety.
Because safety is a big deal.
And while this is certainly NOT all the points of safety---always read through the safety
guidelines specific to the lab you’re doing---these are some major, general safety rules that
apply for many types of labs.
First let’s talk about shoes.
And hair.
We have neither of those.
But if you do--- long hair needs to be pulled back.
You should wear closed toed shoes because you don’t want to be pouring something toxic
on your feet or walking on broken glass.
Speaking of broken glass--- bags and stuff in the aisles in lab rooms do not help.
You want to clear a path and not have your belongings out where someone could trip over
And no horseplay.
To protect your eyes, wear goggles.
And when we say “wear goggles” we all know that on your forehead doesn’t count.
If you do feel as though something has gotten in your eyes, you will want to use the eyewash
station, which will require you to hold your eyes open under the running water.
If your lab involves working with specimens or chemicals, you will likely be advised to
wear gloves.
Gloves are important.
Yes, sometimes they make your hands feel clammy.
But you know what’s worse?
Chemicals that can irritate or burn your skin.
If you have an allergy to latex, you should make sure that the gloves you are using are
latex free---ask your instructor.
In fact, if you have any allergies, you should let your instructor know.
When you finish a lab, even if you wore gloves, it’s a good idea to wash your hands after
time in the lab.
Some labs may require you to wear an apron to protect your clothes.
Depending on what type of course you are in and the type of labs you are doing, you also
may have a safety shower which will dump a very large amount of water on you if you get
some type of hazardous chemical on you.
If you accidentally break glassware, don’t pick it up.
It could cut you.
A broom and a dustpan should be used to clean it up, and there should be a place designated
for broken glass.
Not the regular trash where it would just break through the trash liner.
If you see glassware that is chipped already, don’t use it and tell your instructor.
Never drink or eat anything in the lab.
That includes chemicals.
Don’t taste or smell chemicals.
Read labels.
Don’t ever pour chemicals that you may be using back into the bottle that they came
As soon as you finish pouring chemicals out of a container, the container should be immediately
When you’re done with a chemical, you want to make sure you properly dispose of it.
Many chemicals can’t just be put down the drain.
In fact, some solid items that you use in your labs also cannot be thrown away in the
regular trash and have to be disposed of as hazardous waste.
Always check with your instructor.
In some labs, you may have a special ventilation system, also known as a “fume hood.”
This is used when dealing with volatile substances, which is a fancy way of describing a substance
that easily vaporizes.
Some of your labs may require the fume hood because some of these volatile substances
may be harmful if you inhale them.
When you’re heating things up, like this test tube in a hot water bath, don’t have
the test tube pointed towards you.
Use tongs or heat protective gloves to handle the test tube that you may be heating.
Also, electricity and water are not a good mix.
So when you’re doing your super awesome microscope lab, you want to keep the water
away from the electrical cord.
And speaking of microscopes, we could have an entire video on just working with the microscope.
But for now, we’ll make sure to mention carrying it with two hands.
One hand underneath the base and the other holding the microscope arm.
If you are using any special science equipment, it is important to know how to carefully carry
If you are in a lab that has an open flame, obviously be aware of the flame.
Review with your instructor how to operate the valve that controls the gas fueling the
Review with your instructor how to properly heat the various glassware that will be suspended
over the flame.
Every time you are in the lab with an open flame, you must keep all materials that may
be flammable away from the area near the flame.
Depending on the types of labs you are doing, your lab room may also have a fire extinguisher
and/or a fire blanket in the room.
Finally, the MSDS.
It stands for material safety data sheet.
It’s available for pretty much every substance you use in your lab.
You should refer to it, because it will give you all kinds of safety information on a substance
including how to safely handle it, what to do if there is an accident with it, how to
safely dispose of it, and more.
So, yeah, that was a lot.
And there are so many more safety guidelines that may be specific to the lab that you are
going to do so you always want to go through specific guidelines in advance of your lab.
We’re going to put some items up here so you can pause this video and determine where
those items are if they’re relevant to your lab room.
Remember, don’t be intimidated---just respect safety rules and guidelines because if you’re
following them, hands on science is simply awesome.
In addition to the hands-on part of science, you can always check out our science comic
video clips that may be helpful on a variety of science topics you might cover this year.
Well…that’s it for the Amoeba Sisters and we remind you to stay curious.