Prevent Tragic Accidents with Flammable Liquids
Girl in Flames Runs from School Lab Explosion! Lab Accident Sends Teacher and Students to
Hospital! Teacher Charged After Experiment Goes Awry!
These real news headlines have appeared as a result of accidents involving flammable liquids in science labs. Fires in science labs are always tragic, all the more so because they can easily be prevented. In a Safety Alert, the United States Chemical Safety Board (CSB) delivered a clear and unequivocal message—with better attention to good safety practices, and safety training, accidents like these can be avoided. The purpose of this safety note is to review essential safety practices for using flammable liquids.
General Safety Precautions
Always keep flammable liquids away from heat, sparks, open flames and other sources of ignition. Use the smallest amounts possible in experiments and demonstrations, and always cap solvent bottles when not in use. Most flammable liquids are volatile organic compounds that are also slightly toxic by inhalation and are body tissue irritants. Mild headaches or dizziness may be symptoms of overexposure to organic vapours. Always work with flammable organic liquids in a hood or well-ventilated lab. Wear chemical splash goggles, chemical-resistant gloves, and a chemical-resistant apron.