Fire Safety in the Laboratory
Fire incidences are serious and we may lose valuable time in wait for restoration.
Every member of a laboratory must be fully aware of the potential hazards of the materials they are working with.
In addition, we must take safety precautions of both ourselves and our counterparts.
Meanwhile, ask yourself…what kind of factors facilitate fire occurrence (in the laboratory)?
In general, 3 factors must be present or together for a fire to occur or continue burning. These factors include:
- Oxygen – to support combustion.
- Fuel – In essence, something to burn.
- Heat – To ignite the fuel and sustain.
Therefore,when these 3 factors are represented in form of a diagram, they constitute/make fire triangle.
However, if you remove of any of these components, it causes the triangle to collapse. This definitely indicates that fire outbreak is impossible or a fire which has been burning cannot continue to burn.
Fire: By definition, it is a self-sustaining combustion process which takes places in the vapour phase producing heat, smoke and incandescence.
Precautions To Be Taken
i.) Tightly stopper all flammable chemicals when you are not in using them.
ii.) Keep flammable chemicals away from naked flames.
iii.) Do not smoke in the laboratory.
iv.) Extinguish open flames when you no longer require.
v.) Do not use kerosene or charcoal burner in the main working room.
vi.) Drain flammable liquids down the sink with plenty of water or discard into a pit latrine.
vii.) Set up emergency fire fighting measures outside the exit door of your laboratory. These measures include:
- Sand buckets painted red and labelled “fire”.
- Fire extinguishers of carbon dioxide type.
- Fire blankets.
Precautions Against Electrical Hazards.
i.) Keep electrical equipment clean and dry and away from any water source.
ii.) Regularly, check the lids and other parts of electrical equipment for wear.
iii.) Do not overload electrical outlets.
iv.) Label faulty equipment and do not use them until they are properly repaired.
v.) All electrical equipment must be serviced by a qualified personnel. In using equipment, follow recommendations in the manufacturer’s handbook.