B If the fire is small and contained, such as in a flask or beaker, cover the container with a piece of ceramic to block off the flow of oxygen to the fire and so put it out. 5. Use caution when handling glasses. Be sure to wear protective gloves while cleaning chemical solutions from glassware.
C If you are not wearing protective gloves, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling chemicals or materials that could cause irritation.
D If the fire is large enough to endanger yourself or others, immediately call the police and hazard cleanup crew.
E Finally, try to keep calm and think through the situation. Small fires can be put out with water or sand if they are not too far gone. You should never try to put out a burning garment with gasoline or other flammable liquids because they will just burn more fiercely.
The best way to avoid these accidents is by using proper safety procedures while working with chemicals. All laboratories must follow government regulations for hazardous substances. These regulations include rules about where you can store chemicals, how much you can have on hand at any one time, and what to do if there is an accident involving them.
Laboratories must also have a hazardous waste disposal plan.
If a fire starts in an open container, such as a beaker, it can typically be put out simply by covering the top of the beaker to cut off the source of oxygen. Be cautious not to spread a restricted fire by squeezing it with a fire extinguisher. This could cause more damage than if you just left the room.
Be aware that if the container is sealed then there will be no way to put out the fire except with a water hose or chemical sprayer. Also keep in mind that some chemicals are toxic and should not be poured into containers that may catch on fire!
There are several ways that fires can start in laboratories. Most commonly they begin when something burns (such as paper or tobacco products) and drops onto another material (such as rubber or polyethylene). Various acids, bases, and salts can produce heat when coming in contact with air, which can lead to combustion. Some materials release energy when disturbed or when exposed to light; this includes many organic compounds such as sugars, fats, and oils. Finally, some substances are spontaneously combustible. That means that they will burn without any external influence once the critical temperature is reached.
Spontaneous combustion occurs when molecules within a substance become excited upon contact with enough heat. These molecules then react with each other faster than they can re-combine. As a result, additional molecules are split from other elements within the substance.
When handling hot containers, always use a clamp or tongs. Hot glassware appears to be the same as cool glassware. Alcohol and other flammable products should never be administered or used near an open flame. If a laboratory fire breaks out, inform your teacher right away. The fire department will want to know how large the fire is, so keep an eye on it until they arrive.
If you are not sure what to do, call your school's fire safety officer for advice. They may have some additional recommendations for you.
The best thing you can do to prevent fires in the laboratory is to follow lab safety procedures. Only work with approved materials that are kept outside of the laboratory area. Use non-flammable material when possible instead of alcohol or gasoline. Be sure to use proper ventilation when working with chemicals.
If you do have a laboratory fire, act quickly to put it out. Use a water bottle or wet towel to douse any flames. Do not try to put out a fire with gasoline or other fuel sources because they will only make the situation worse.
Contact your school's fire safety officer immediately after a laboratory fire has been extinguished. They may want to hold class discussions about lab safety procedures.
Step 2: If you have a small fire in a pan, pour as much baking soda or salt as you have on hand immediately on top of the fire. Flour, biscuit mix, and baking powder are all flammable and should not be used to extinguish a fire; only salt and baking soda are safe.
Step 3: Let the fire burn for 5 minutes, then check it again. If the fire is out, then there was no need to use an extinguisher. If the fire isn't out, then go ahead and use an extinguisher to be sure.
Baking soda is a great product to have around for putting out fires. It's easy to get your hands on, cheap, and effective. We recommend keeping a bag by the door so you can grab it quickly if needed.