Lab Safety for General Chemistry Labs



  1. In case of an accident, call your instructor.
    • For a flame or high temperature burn, flood the affected area with water for several minutes
    • For a chemical burn, accompany the student to the emergency shower, make them remove their clothing covering the affected area and have them wash thoroughly. Replacement clothing is available in the stockroom.
    • If anyone is cut and bleeding, hand the victim some gauze (from stockroom or first aid kit) and instruct him/her to put pressure on the wound. DO NOT touch the victim’s blood unless you put on double gloves.
    • For eye injuries, use an eyewash immediately and send someone else to get help.
    • If the injury is severe, call the Fire Department ambulance to transport the student to the infirmary or hospital.
    • If the student is ambulatory but wants to go to the infirmary, ask another student to accompany the injured student to the infirmary.  Never send an injured student unaccompanied to the infirmary.
  2. A mop and pail are available in the stockroom to clean up floods. Any liquid on the floor should be mopped up immediately to avoid falls.
  3. In case of a fire, pull the fire alarm or call 911, and evacuate the teaching wing.  Do not attempt to put the fire out you yourself.
  4. The following safety rules should be communicated to your students and enforced by you:
    • When heating a substance in a test tube, be careful not to point the test tube toward yourself or anyone else.
    • Never pour water into concentrated acid. Always pour acid slowly into water while constantly stirring.
    • Always carry out reactions that give off objectionable gases under a hood.
    • Never taste a chemical.
    • If you are instructed to smell a chemical, gently fan the vapors toward your face. Never smell a chemical by putting your nose into the container.
    • Always protect your hands by using a towel when breaking glass tubing or inserting tubing into a rubber stopper.  (Not observing this rule leads to more lab accidents than any other single factor.)
    • Before removing a chemical from a bottle, read the label on the bottle carefully.  Be certain that you have the correct chemical.  Serious accidents can occur if the wrong chemical is used in an experiment.
    • Do not take any more reagent than is required.  Chemicals are expensive and excess chemicals add unnecessary waste to the environment.
    • Make certain that all gas outlets and water faucets are turned off before you leave the laboratory.