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Security of Materials and Safety

Recent events have led to some questions about security of materials in laboratories, as well as the safety of students and staff using the labs.

Some simple steps:

  1. Keep lab doors and stockrooms locked, especially when unoccupied.
  2. Get rid of chemicals you don't need (e.g., old stuff that's unlikely to be used in the foreseeable future).
  3. Keep only a short-term supply of potentially dangerous materials on hand (e.g., flammable materials).
  4. Remember that a fire alarm means "get out of and away from the building right now." Don't try to find out what's going on or wait for some confirmation that the problem is real. The fire alarm means "get out of your chair, head for the emergency exit (not the elevator), get out, and get away from the building right now while you can." If it's a false alarm, you'll have plenty of time to get back in. If it's real, you might not have any warning other than the fire alarm. Once outside, move away from the building and stay away until it's clear that the problem has been resolved.
  5. These steps do create various levels of inconvenience: locking and unlocking doors, the expense and aggravation of more frequent purchases of smaller quantities of materials, the certainty of missing a few minutes of work several times a year for fire drills, false alarms, etc.
  6. The payoff is that the facility is less accessible and less interesting to unwelcome visitors and more likely to make a quick comeback if some unfortunate event were to occur.