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Athabasca University

Home Lab Safety Guidelines

NOTE: More detailed information regarding Home Lab Safety specific to the course you are taking is found in your  print-based or online lab manual.

When designing the home laboratory component of our courses, we found it necessary to strike a balance between minimizing possible hazards and exposing you to a full range of techniques.

By its very nature, science often necessitates the handling of dangerous substances; if science students are never exposed to such situations, we would never have fully trained scientists. If you adhere to a high standard of safety practices, we do not anticipate problems when carrying out home labs.

ALWAYS read the assigned home lab activity completely, before beginning. This helps you carry out the experiment faster as you will understand the purpose of the activity, and you will be able to recognize possible hazards up front.

We strongly recommend the following safety standards be strictly adhered to:

Personal Safety & Equipment:

  • Keep the Home Lab Kit, and the supplementary materials safely away from children.
  • Wear approved eye protection at all times doing your lab activities.
  • Confine long hair when doing your lab activities.
  • Perform no unauthorized experiments.
  • Select a safe site for lab activities in your home that is well ventilated, and protected from spills, children and pets. Use a work area, such as your kitchen, where there is a flat and stable working surface, and access to water and various supplies.
  • Have no food or drink in the lab area.
  • Never place any instrument or materials in your mouth.
  • Wash your hands before taking a break for a snack or meal.

Chemicals:

  • Keep all chemicals and equipment out of the reach of children and pets.
  • If possible, keep all unauthorized people out of your selected site when chemicals are in use in order to avoid any unforeseen accidents. If anyone is allowed to observe you or participate in experiments, follow all of the proper safety rules.
  • Never wear contact lenses when working with chemicals.
  • Work with the (small) quantities indicated. Follow the instructions to prevent fires, burns and cuts.
  • Do not smoke or eat when you are using flammable or poisonous materials.
  • Label all materials clearly, and make accurate observations and measurements so that you do not make mistakes or need to repeat experiments.

Spills and Clean-up:

  • In case of a chemical spill, clean up thoroughly with paper towels and dispose of chemicals out of the reach of children and pets.
  • If chemical spills occur on people or clothing, rinse thoroughly with lots of running water, and seek medical attention if necessary.
  • Be sure to thoroughly clean up lab site and all utensils used after working on labs.

Emergencies:

  • Have the following emergency equipment handy in your working area: a fire extinguisher, water, a first aid kit, and a telephone.

Be safe and have fun!

Updated December 11 2014 by Student & Academic Services

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