Safety and Emergencies

Department of Chemistry Procedures and Guidelines

Gas and materials compatibility table

Consult this table of gas and materials compatibility when choosing apparatus (e.g. tubing, regulators, valves, containers) for handling gases.

Medical Emergencies and First Aid

Be prepared to administer first aid according to the following guidelines.

Basic rules

  1. Wash chemicals on the skin or in the eye as quickly as possible with cool water. Continue washing for at least 20 minutes.
  2. If medical help is required, have the supervisor or a senior laboratory worker take charge in the lab and accompany the injured person to University Health Services (second floor SUB) or to Emergency at the University Hospital (112 Street & 83 Ave) for medical help. If transport to medical help or an ambulance is required, dial 911.
  3. Reassure the injured person and watch for signs of shock (paleness, trembling, fainting).

Actions for specific accidents

  • Chemicals on the skin: wash the contact area immediately with cool water or soap and water for 20 minutes. Remove contaminated clothing.
  • Splash in the eye: immediately flood the eye with a gentle stream of cool water for 20 minutes. It may be necessary to hold the eye open.
  • Glass in the eye: gentle hold a gauze pad on the eye to prevent the eyelid from opening. Seek immediate medical attention (University Health Services or University Hospital).
  • Minor cuts: wash with cool water and soap to remove chemicals, then cover with bandage
  • Severe cuts: wash with cool water, cover with a gauze pad and visit a medical centre.
  • Ingestion of chemicals: drink lots of water and seek immediate medical attention (University Health Services or University Hospital)
  • Burns: place gauze soaked in ice water or cold tap water on the burned area. If burn is severe, seek medical attention (University Health Services or University Hospital)
  • Shock or fainting: have the person lie down. Loosen tight clothing and cover the person with a blanket. If symptoms persist, dial 911

Fire Safety

Fire safety is important. Review these basic protocols to ensure that you're prepared.

  • Escape route: know the escape route from your laboratory or office. Routes are posted in the hallways.
  • Location of fire alarm: look for the fire alarm nearest your laboratory or office.
  • Sound of fire alarm: the sound of a fire alarm in the Chemistry Building is a high pitched siren interrupted by a voice announcing a fire emergency.
  • Location of fire extinguisher: fire extinguishers are located close to the doors of all laboratories.
  • Action in the case of fire alarm: immediately close any gas taps being used in your laboratory, close any open windows, quickly leave and close the door behind you. Descend to the first floor using the stairs and leave the building by the nearest exit.

Laboratory fires

If a small quantity of liquid in a beaker catches fire, immediately cover the beaker with a watch glass or place a large beaker over it. If the burning liquid has spilled on the bench, or there is a small fire that you can safely put out using a fire extinguisher, follow these steps:

  1. remove the fire extinguisher from its holder
  2. pull the pin to break the plastic seal
  3. with your back to the exit, aim the extinguisher at the base of the fire
  4. pull the trigger
  5. sweep the extinguisher from side to side until the fire is extinguished
If it is unsafe to fight the fire, immediately leave the laboratory, closing the door behind you. Proceed to pull the nearest fire alarm.