Safety In Chemistry Labs

Here are some helpful hints in using lab equipment and personal safety. Chemistry is a fun subject that people as young as ten want to get involved in.

Chemistry is something that many people are interested in. However, there is a certain level of safety that's required. Since it involves using corrosive chemicals as well as heat, breakable objects, and sharp tools, it's always better to be safe when using these than worry about possible accidents.

Any children or people who are new to chemistry should use diluted chemicals. This makes the possibility of burning much less likely. A small amount of chemical, when quickly washed off shouldn't cause any harm. A much stronger amount of it will. Any such things should be kept out of reach of children young enough not to understand the purpose of chemistry and to listen to safety instructions.

Goggles and aprons should be used to protect eyes and clothes. In some cases, regular goggles are not enough for contact lenses wearers. Chemicals can sometimes get in through the sides of the goggles in into the contact lenses. In the case that contacts must be worn, a style of goggles called "˜eye cup' may be worn. Sometimes it is also wise to wear gloves, depending on the tools that will be used. Fume hoods are sometimes necessary when working with chemicals. Well-ventilated areas should be used no matter what kind of chemicals are being used, just in case. In case of emergency in any of these cases, if chemicals are spilled, gotten in eyes, etc., one should always know the location of the nearest eye wash, shower, and all first aid equipment.

Any sharp objects should be carried with the point down, and while walking. NEVER run with these objects. Never play with them; someone could get seriously hurt. When cutting, the knife should always be pointed away from the body to avoid any unintentional injury. Basically, common sense should be used.

When using Bunsen burners, they should be mostly open so more air is getting in than gas. The gas should be turned down as low as possible when lighting. Matches should be used unless they are unavailable; but one must be very careful with the sparkers. They are more dangerous than matches. Matches should always be dipped in water before being thrown out, to prevent any accidents. Bunsen burners should never be left unattended. If water is boiled for a test involving heat, and a solid object is placed in a test tube (within the boiling water), the test tube should be pointed away from everyone in case the object should accidentally shoot out. While this rarely happens, it is not a sure thing that it won't.

Droppers used for chemicals should never be shared. If necessary, they must be washed thoroughly each time they are put into a different chemical, using hot water and soap. One can never be sure of the reaction they might get when they mix chemicals. It's best not to find out by mixing them by accident. One must always follow the directions for an experiment; never randomly mix things together. It may cause no reaction, or it may cause a substantial one.

Bottles of chemicals must be kept sealed tightly and clearly labeled. It is very important that similar chemicals not be mistaken for one another. When mixed with other chemicals, it could cause a reaction that may be unexpected. Always organize supplies carefully. It may quite a hazard if something is misplaced.

When handling equipment that in itself is not dangerous, one should be careful. Tongs used to lift hot beakers should be squeezed while around the middle of the beaker, and held carefully until the beaker is in contact with the surface it's being set upon. Tongs for lifting hot test tubes work in the opposite way. They must be squeezed to open, then let go to close around the test tube. Be careful not to squeeze these while carrying a hot test tube. Never carry either test tube or beaker any great distance while it's hot; let it cool first, or, if absolutely necessary, get a tray or some other sturdy way to carry it.

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