General Laboratory Safety Procedures
Laboratory safety is very important, whether you are in a school lab or at home doing a science fair project. There are many potential hazards to be aware of.
Types of hazards include:
- Mechanical or Machinery
- Compressed Gases
It's important protect yourself from all of these possible hazards when planning and performing your experiment. Here are some specific tips that can help keep you safe.
Eye protection (goggles or safety glasses) must be worn when working on experiments. Make a habit of putting them on before the experiment begins and keeping them on until all clean-up is finished.
Do not eat, drink, or smoke while in the laboratory.
Do not taste any chemical.
Long hair must be tied back, so it will not fall into chemicals or flames.
Do not work alone; work with an adult.
Never perform any unauthorized experiment.
All glassware must be washed and cleaned. Wipe all counter surfaces and hands with soap and water.
All experiments that produce or use chemicals that release poisonous, harmful, or objectionable fumes or vapors must be done in a well-ventilated area.
Never point the open end of a test tube at yourself or another person.
If you want to smell a substance, do not hold it directly to your nose. Instead, hold the container a few centimeters away and use your hand to fan vapors toward you.
When diluting acids, always add the acid to the water; never water to acid. Add the acid slowly.
Flush with large quantities of water when disposing of liquid chemicals or solutions in the sink.
If you spill any acid or base material on you, wash the exposed area with large amounts of cold water. If skin becomes irritated, see a physician.
Recording Your Observations
Using a Laboratory Notebook
Writing your observations on your experiments will help you to keep better track of the progress of the experiment. Written data are not forgotten. Record keeping can be very simple and still be a help. These hints can help you organize and record your thoughts.
Use a bound laboratory notebook so that pages are not lost.
Write complete sentences for all written entries.
Use drawings as needed.
Date each entry (even drawings).
Use the title of the experiment as your first entry.
When your observation entries have been completed, write your answers to the questions that follow each experiment.
Write your own thoughts about the experiment as the conclusion