Since it looks like I'm teaching chemistry lab again, and every year many of my students seem to not be familiar with basic chemical safety, I'm passing this on to E2. This way if any of you ever take a chemistry
lab, or deal with any sort of chemical spill you won't be completely clueless about your own safety.
The first rule: Know where all the safety equipment is. It's there for a reason, and you can't use it if you can't find it, and the only things worse than being in lots of pain is knowing someone could have done something about it, or that you could have done something yourself.
Related to that point, make sure you know how to use said equipment, and that it's in working condition.
Make sure you're adequately protected from spills:
This is especially for people who think they have perfect control over everything they do. Even if you're right you can't make the same assumption about everyone around you.
You might think lab coats and lab aprons are ugly and hot, but ask yourself the following question: Is having skin on your arms for the rest of your life more important than making a fashion statement for the next three hours?
Likewise, gloves protect your hands, but sandals will not protect your feet from spills or broken glass.
Safety glasses are generally adequate protection for your eyes. Goggles generally offer more protection, especially when dealing with fumes. Avoid wearing contact lenses, as they trap liquid next to the eye, and soft contacts actually absorb gases and some liquids, in which case you should never wear the same lenses again.
If for some reason you do get something on your skin, wash it off immediately. It's good to use soap in addition to water: Not only does soap help remove oily liquids, soap is slightly alkaline and helps neutralize acids.
In case something gets in your eyes, go to the nearest eyewash station and rinse your eyes with water immediately. Rubbing them generally makes the problem worse.
Try to contain any spills as quickly as possible.
Broken glass should be swept up and disposed of in special containers.
Many of the compounds used in chemistry lab require special methods of disposal. The lab instructor should provide appropriate containers for any waste.
A good rule of thumb is, if you don't keep a specific chemical in your kitchen at home, it's not safe to pour it down the drain. Solids should never be left in the sink, as they may clog the drain in addition to contaminating the sewage with toxic waste.
You want to avoid exposure to fumes whenever possible, so volatile chemicals should be kept in a fume hood at all times, and the bottles should be closed when not in use.
This one should be common sense, but a lot of people just don't seem to get it. Never taste chemicals in the lab or handle them with your bare hands. Obviously, this means you shouldn't have food, drinks, or gum in the lab since they can be contaminated by volatile liquids or fine powders. Keeping this in mind, you probably want to wash your hands after you leave the lab.
Tobacco should be avoided for the same reason, as well as the hazard of using fire around volatile substances.