Safety tips and first aid

Vijayalakshmi Nandakumar

The chemistry laboratory is a place where children can have lots of fun. It is also a place where the children and the teacher have to be extremely careful. The following safety tips to be observed in the laboratory will give you the pleasure of experimenting and also help the children to be safe. There are 3Cs to follow: Care, Caution and Concentration.

Ensure that the children understand the instructions and follow them correctly.

The workplace needs to be kept clean and uncluttered. Do not mix up the stoppers of the reagent bottles. Keep a wet cloth by your side.

Read the following safety tips before you proceed. Note down all that you observe and that will help you to come to a logical conclusion.

  1. Always wear cotton clothes. Wear an apron or overcoat over your clothing.
  2. Check the gas tubing and gas taps for leaks and proper working of the gas burner before the experiment.
  3. Direct the test tube away from yourself when you are heating it. Do not add water or acid to a hot test tube. The chances of the contents spurting out of the test tube are high.
  4. Do not add acid to the contents of the test tube. Always use a dropper for the acid.
  5. Always add concentrated acid to water. Never add water to acid.
  6. In case of acid or alkali falling on your skin, keep the area under running water until the itching sensation stops. Apply cold cream or Burnol over the area. If the itching or burning sensation persists, prepare a dilute solution of sodium bicarbonate and rinse the area thoroughly. Wash it in plenty of water.
  7. Do not inhale any gas.
  8. In case of excess chlorine inhalation deep breathe/inhale steam. It will dilute the effect of the chlorine. In case of acidic fumes, inhale vapours of ammonium carbonate solution.
  9. Do not taste any substance in the laboratory.
  10. Keep the stoppers on after using the reagent bottles especially in the case of acid bottles and keep them in place in the shelves.

The student is encouraged to do the experiments without any fear and observe the discipline of working methodically. The children must not try anything new on their own. Always encourage the children to clean the place after they have finished to give them a sense of ownership and also help them to be aware about how things are kept in the lab. Children love to wash their test tubes and other glassware. Encourage them to help each other and to notice anything amiss and report to the teacher.