It is important that laboratories using hazardous materials plan accordingly prior to any type of extended leave. This procedure outlines basic precautions that labs should take prior to expected university closures or times of limited resources.

Laboratory Experiments:

  • Complete all running experiments and do not begin any new experiments that would require attention during an extended absence.

Important Researchers should protect all of their work prior to a extended leaves. Even with emergency generators, there is the chance of a failure in long term events. Other than electricity there is also the chance of other utility failures such as HVAC, potable water, sanitary sewer, etc.

Hazardous Materials (chemical, biological, radiological):

  • Ensure all hazardous material and waste containers are clearly labeled and Tightly closed. Hazard warning labels may be critical during post disaster response.
  • Materials that are volatile, toxic, infectious, or pose a respiratory hazard must be stored in tightly sealed impervious and impact-resistant containers which are secured.
  • Move all chemicals to appropriate storage locations.
  • Store water reactive chemicals in tightly sealed, waterproof containers.
  • Place flammable materials in approved flammable cabinets.
  • Remove chemicals from upper shelves and limit storage on bench tops.
  • Ensure gas cylinders are capped and secured to a permanent fixture using a cylinder strap or chain.
  • Do not store any hazardous materials on the floor due to the possibility of flooding.
  • Secure research animals.
  • Secure radioisotopes.

Chemical Fume Hoods and Biosafety Cabinets:

  • Remove all hazardous materials from fume hoods and BSCs and secure in appropriate storage areas.
  • Close sashes completely. If the building experiences a complete loss of power, fume hoods and BSCs will become inoperable.

Other Laboratory Equipment

  • Unplug all non-essential equipment
  • Consider protecting sensitive equipment in the event of a power surge.
  • Move equipment as far from windows as possible.
  • Ensure essential equipment is plugged into emergency power (red outlets)


  • Backup important computer files
  • Store important documents in water impenetrable containers, and store away from possible flooding areas

Laboratory Security:

  • Close and lock all laboratory doors.
  • Avoid obstructing egresses and hallways.
  • Ensure you have an up to date phone tree of all lab personnel.
  • Ensure emergency contact information is updated and posted on your laboratory door sign.

Contact your Department Safety Advisor for more tips- CRC-617-353-4094 or BUMCBoston University Medical Campus 617-358-7840

More information and additional resources can be found on the Emergency Response Planning Divisions website at or