Lab work in high school science classes can be exciting. Dissections and chemical experiments pose interesting challenges and introduce you to more in-depth concepts than the classes you’ve taken before, but they also can be more dangerous. Following basic lab procedures will help you stay safe and off the rap sheet.
First and foremost, practice good procedural safety when at your station. You should never use lab supplies in a way other than that specified by the assignment. If your teacher or another adult isn’t present, do not begin or continue work on an experiment. Always move carefully when leaving or returning to your station, as you don’t know what other students may be doing, and bumping them could be dangerous. When accidents occur, report them immediately to a teacher.
Many objects you use in the lab can be dangerous. If you use sharp objects such as syringes, ensure they are properly taken care of by putting them immediately in the disposal containers in which they belong. If you break a glass beaker, test tube or other object, clean it up with a broom and dustpan -- not your hands -- and throw it away. Always follow proper procedures when disposing of waste products or chemicals, keeping them out of the sink and putting them only in designated disposal areas.
Chemicals used in a high school lab can be dangerous and should be treated as such. Never touch, smell or taste chemicals unless the teacher tells you it’s all right. When smelling a chemical, hold the test tube or beaker away from your body and carefully wave the fumes toward your nose. Check chemicals twice before using, measure them carefully and dispose of extras instead of returning it to the container. Use extra precaution when handling acids, as these are particularly dangerous.
Familiarize yourself with the location of the fire extinguisher, fire blanket, fire alarm and safety exits. Only keep your Bunsen burner on when you are at your station. Otherwise, turn if off. Use Bunsen burners only in the manner specified by the teacher and never put any foreign object in the flame or play with the flame. Roll up loose sleeves and pull long hair back, out of the way. If your hair or clothing catches fire, stop, drop and roll.
Sarah Moore has been a writer, editor and blogger since 2006. She holds a master's degree in journalism.