Earthquake Preparedness in the Lab for National Safety Month 2013

National Safety Month



Are you putting down roots in earthquake country? California is home to R&D facilities, university research labs, and countless entrepreneurial science ventures. It’s a great place to do research, but there may be some ground shaking along the way. Other states are subject to earthquakes too, so it’s important to be prepared for this natural disaster. Earthquake preparedness in the lab is another post to commemorate National Safety Month this June.

First, let’s lay it all out. Earthquakes can happen at any time in any place. They are most likely to occur along tectonic plate boundaries. And if you live on one of these fault lines, you probably know it. Small tremors are common and earthquake preparedness advice shows up all over the place. Seismic retrofitting is a term that is part of the local vernacular. These are the places where labs focus on earthquake preparedness, but it’s important for labs far from quake zones to be ready for natural disasters too.

Even though nature is so much more powerful than humans, our species carries on. We continue to pursue science and culture, and we rebuild when things are torn down. There is incredible resilience in our communities which we see in neighborhood emergency volunteers. We are smart enough to know that natural disasters are coming, and we can take steps to save ourselves from the worst.


Preventing Earthquake-related Injuries in the Lab

In the lab, worker safety is incredibly important. In an earthquake, the most common injuries happen when heavy items fall onto people from above. It is not unheard of to see unsecured cabinets and heavy equipment. This is an easy one to fix by simply moving heavier items to lower shelves and securing cabinets and large items to the wall. Chemical storage should be in compliance with all building and fire codes which are aimed at preventing and minimizing damage in an emergency. Gas pipes and electrical cords should be secured according to regulatory codes to prevent breakage and possible fire.



Be Personally Prepared with an Emergency Kit

After a natural disaster, it could be 72 hours or possibly more before the city can repair broken utilities and services. To be prepared for this time, a go bag is one more component of emergency preparedness. In a backpack or easy to carry container, these are the items that you can grab and go in the case of an evacuation. In fact, there should be three go bags. It may not be possible to return home before evacuating, so it’s important to keep some supplies in the home, car and work. There are about 20 items that constitute a great go bag, and many resources online to help you craft yours. This is the mighty bag of items you would need for your immediate safety.




We can also plan ahead for how to communicate with loved ones in an emergency. Local phone lines may experience delays with many people using the system. One tip is to try text messaging or calling an out of state contact, these systems use different lines which may not be as busy.


Supporting Lab Safety, ChemSW Heading to Safety 2013 Conference & Expo

ChemSW is all about lab safety. Next week, we will be showcasing our chemical inventory software, CISPro™, at Safety 2013 conference and expo in Las Vegas. Our software provides real-time inventory lists and crucial hazard information in an emergency. Please come see us at our booth at Safety 2013 and explore our website for more information.

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