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Emergency Management

Emergency Management is an essential component of laboratory safety. It is important to improve the individual awareness of people against hazards and risks of emergencies. For protection against adverse impacts of emergencies, Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences prepares emergency plans, establishes reponse team, illustrates evacuation routes and performs training.

Spill, First Aid, And Emergency Kits
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Fire Extinguishers, Eyewash Stations And Safety Showers
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Attaching Equipment to Walls or Supports

Heavy or hazardous items that could collapse and create a danger or block emergency exits must be secured to the walls or floor by Operation and Technical Services. These items include shelving units, equipment racks, and tall file cabinets, distillation units, gas cylinders (attach at two heights, approximately one third and two thirds of the cylinder height), and cryogenic dewars which are taller than two and a half times their base diameters.

Any new apparatus should be constructed robustly and secured to supporting fixtures. If you need to route gas lines between apparatus mounted to different supports, the lines should either be made of a compatible material that is flexible, or have flexing joints if made of solid lines.

Modifying Shelves and Cabinets

Shelves holding chemical containers must have protective restraint devices to prevent chemical containers from being eluded the shelf.

Shelves above the floor level should have anti-earthquake matting or protective restraint device if used to hold heavy manuals, books, or equipment.

Cabinets used to store chemical containers should have a closure device to prevent the door from being shaken open.

Protective Procedures

Users should be:

  • Ensuring there is clear access to exits, fire extinguishers, eyewash stations, and safety showers.
  • Closing containers when not in use.
  • Closing fume hood sashes when not in use.
  • Maintaining good housekeeping, including not placing chemical containers on the floor.
  • Not storing boxes or large items within 40 cm of the ceiling if the room has fire sprinklers. 

References and sources for information from the relevant websites and documentation of different universities, NGOs and government agencies used in the preparation of this website are provided at references.

Accidents Resulting In Personal Injury Or Contamination
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Chemical Spills
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Students and all other unauthorized people should never fight the fire under any circumstances. Activate the alarm system (or call 7555) and evacuate the building by nearest emergency stairs. If there is smoke in the air stay low to the ground to reduce inhalation exposure. Go to the Emergency Assembly Area and await further instructions from emergency personnel.

When you hear the fire/emergency alarm, evacuate the building by the nearest stairs. Do not use elevators. Always leave the building when you hear the alarm, even if you think it may be a false alarm or result of a test.

If a person’s hair or clothing is on fire, smother the flames with a coat or by having the person roll on the floor. Assist the victim to medical treatment. Assist others to evacuate as needed. Remain at a location known to the on-scene emergency responders to provide any details they may need.

Report all fires and explosions immediately. Even if the fire was small, contained and readily extinguished by laboratory users, and you did not call 7555, immediately report the incident to the LS/LSS on the main campus at 7555.

If you are uncertain about calling 7555, the best course of action is to call LS/LSS and let the dispatch operator assist in deciding a proper response.

Submit an accident report on LS/LSS.

References and sources for information from the relevant websites and documentation of different universities, NGOs, and government agencies used in the preparation of this website are provided at references.

Drop, Cover, and Hold! Take shelter under a workbench or other protective cover until the earth movement stops.

Afterwards, if safe to do so, shut down any procedures which may be underway and cap any open containers. Aid injured if you are able. Determine if you need to evacuate the work area. When evacuating, take keys, emergency kits, etc. because you may not be allowed to re-enter until the building has been assessed for hazards. Try to note the extent of building damage while evacuating. Assemble at the Emergency Assembly Point. Await further instructions. Do not re-enter the building until after it has been assessed for structural damage by trained users and re-entry is authorized by University officials.


Natural Gas Leaks

  • Natural gas leaks can cause explosions due to the explosive nature. Natural gas contains an odorant that is easily detected by smell. If a weak odor is smelled inside a building:
  • Check laboratory gas outlets for open valves.
  • Call 9988 and 7444 LS/LSS to have the location of the gas leak identified.
  • For strong, widespread (in many rooms), and/or quickly worsening odor:
  • Pull the emergency alarm.
  • Close the emergency gas valve for your floor or area if one exists.
  • Evacuate the building immediately, following your building evacuation plan.
  • If your assembly area is downwind of the building, move to second assembly area.
  • Do not return to an evacuated building unless told to do so by the on-scene authority (fire department, police department or other users).
  • Submit an accident report on LS/LSS.

Leaking Gas Cylinders

Do not overtighten the valve in an attempt to stop the leak. If the valve continues to leak, consider whether room evacuation and building evacuation is necessary. Take the following actions:

Flammable, Oxidizing or Inert Gases: If necessary, PPE must be equipped. If possible, allow the cylinder to exhaust into a well ventilated area (such as a fume hood) with few or no combustible absorbent materials in the area (such as cardboard). Post a sign warning of the leaking cylinder. Avoid sparks and open flames.

Toxic or Corrosive Gases: If necessary, PPE must be equipped. Exhaust cylinder into an absorbent or neutralizer if possible. If no absorbent or neutralizing system is available, exhaust the cylinder into an operating fume hood. Post a sign warning of the leaking cylinder.

Unknown Odors

Check with users to determine if they are doing something to produce an odor. If not, check adjacent labs to determine if the odor is widespread or if the source is obvious. Try to relate the odor to possible causes – such as whether it smells like a sewer, or rotting food, or over-heating electronics, or a distinct chemical. If the source is obvious, take action if possible to eliminate the cause or control the odor, such as taking a chemical reaction off the benchtop and putting it into a working fume hood.

If the odor isn’t immediately found but appears to be appreciably stronger in one location, there is likely a source nearby, which can be a dried sink drain or floor drain (if a sewer-like or chemical-like odor), a chemical process gone wrong (if a rotting or unknown chemical odor), over-heating electronics (if devices are over-heating), or a chemical spill or a leaking process (if a distinct chemical). There are an unlimited number of potential sources, but familiarity with the lab’s activities should help narrow the possibilities.

You should consider both your personal safety and that of others working in the same area. Under these circumstances; people should remain calm and assess the situation. If the situation escalates out control or is dangerous, the area must be evacuated and others must be assisted to evacuate. Once the area is evacuated, do not re-enter the building until the competent authority has determined it is safe to do so.

If you cannot conduct work but your exit can be safely delayed, notify the responsible faculty member or LSS, shut off work in progress that could cause hazards, close containers, close fume hood/biosafety cabinet sashes, and return hazardous material containers to their proper storage locations. Some utility failures may have an insignificant impact on your operations, and you can safely continue work as determined by LS/LSS.

If the failure appears likely to last for a long period, and directions of LS/LSS. Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed for as long as possible and implement backup procedures as necessary, such as obtaining dry ice to keep specimen refrigerators cold. When systems return to normal operation, immediately assess the work area (even on weekends if that is when service is restored) for any hazards that may be present, such as electric devices (heaters, ovens, centrifuges, etc.) left on when the outage occurred.

Electrical Failure

  • Assess the extent of the outage in your area.
  • Report the outage to Operation and Technical Services and LS.
  • Help other users in darkened work areas move to safe locations.
  • Implement pre-planned response actions, as necessary. Do not treat the outage as “business as usual.”
  • If practical, secure current experimental work, then move it to a safe location.
  • Close any open containers of hazardous materials.
  • Close sashes on fume hoods and biological safety cabinets.
  • If you move chemicals on carts between floors, get assistance. Hazardous spills pose significant risk during transport.
  • Keep lab refrigerators or freezers closed throughout the outage.
  • Unplug personal computers, non-essential electrical equipment, and appliances.
  • Open windows for additional light and ventilation (during mild weather).
  • If you are asked to evacuate your building, secure any hazardous materials work and leave the building.
  • Release users during an extended outage if directed to do so by LS.
  • When power is restored, immediately assess the affected area for potentially hazardous situations, such as devices left “ON”. This is also required if power is restored at a time that the facility would be normally unoccupied.

HVAC/Fume Hood Fan Failure

  • Notify other occupants of the situation.
  • If necessary; evacuate area (and pull fire alarm if the situation is widespread)
  • Notify your LS and responsible faculty member.
  • Shut down work in progress if safe to do so:
    • Shut off equipment and supplied gases and liquids;
    • Close open containers.
    • Close sashes on fume hoods, biological safety cabinets, etc.
    • Note the step in the process when work was stopped.
    • Return specimens to freezer, storage containers, etc.
    • Open windows if users are to remain in the workplace.
    • If users remain in the workplace, periodically check on their well-being and evacuate if anyone is adversely affected.
    • Prior to re-starting work in the area, review work to identify possible hazards.
    • If the outage caused damage, submit an accident report to LS/LSS.

If your laboratory is affected by flooding:

  • Find the source of the water. If safe, shut the water off.
  • If it is safe to shut down any equipment that could cause a dangerous electrical situation during a flood and use plastic film for covering equipment and desks if water or sewage is dripping onto them.
  • Get help quickly. During work hours, contact your LS. Notify the users, responsible faculty member in charge of the flooding laboratory as soon as possible. He/she will assume responsibility as soon as he/she arrives.
  • If foreign materials such as sewage, ceiling tiles, or leaking chemicals have contaminated the flood water, the situation should be assessed by hazardous material staff who can be contacted through Operation and Technical Services. The best method to clean up uncontaminated water is by using one water vacuum on the scene of the flood and another on the affected area below.
  • After the cleanup, submit an accident report on LS/LSS.


For other emergencies (such as Criminal Emergency) see SU Emergency Procedures Plan document.


  • Wilkes, G.; Cowan, E., Hydrofluoric Acid Burns, (checked August 2006)
  • Gates, B., Hydrofluoric Acid Safety, Harvard Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, May 2002.
  • Guidelines for the Safe Use of Hydrofluoric Acid, University of Pittsburgh, September 2005, (checked August 2023).
  • Guidelines For Using Hydrofluoric Acid, Desert Research Institute, Novermber 2004,
  • SU Emergency Procedures Plan (FOTS-S210-01-05-V01)

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