Responding to disasters in the lab should be an exercise in following directions that you know beforehand. Since knowing is at least half the battle, you should be aware of the following with regards to your lab:
- Shelter for tornado/inclement weather
- Nearest emergency exit
- Safest place in an active shooter situation
- Nearest phone and numbers for Poison Control, UW EHS, your PI, your mentor (if applicable), the building manager, and any other applicable emergency services
- Emergency shutdown for any equipment that has it.
Using this knowledge, you should be able to address disasters on a case by case basis. However, the first step in any disaster is to save yourself. If you can’t safely stop a process, clean a spill, or address damage, without risk to yourself don’t do it. Get to a known safe location as appropriate for the disaster – you can’t do anything else if you aren’t alive. This is where the legwork before the event pays off.
Once safe, contact the appropriate authorities when first possible. This is the time to use your emergency phone and phone list (if you can). Attempt to fix things or offer first aid within your qualifications.
The next steps are highly dependent on the disaster and may come from the appropriate authorities.