Be Prepared for Emergencies in Labs: 

Review the Emergency Preparedness Checklist for Researchers


Power Outages in Labs

During work:

  • Do not panic. Notify your PI or other emergency contacts. 
  • Stop or stabilize all experiments immediately, especially those involving hazardous materials. 
  • Secure and cap all chemicals and shut off all gas cylinders that are being used. 
  • Turn off heat sources (gas or electric burners, hot plates, etc.) to prevent fires. 
  • Shut all the sashes of fume hoods and biosafety cabinets (if applicable). Do not work in fume hoods or biosafety cabinets.
    • This also applies to when ventilation exhaust drops out.
  • Shut down equipment that automatically restart when power returns. 
  • Check equipment on emergency power to ensure that it is running properly. All unnecessary equipment should be disconnected. 
  • Check items stored in cold rooms and refrigerators. Vulnerable items may be transferred to equipment served by emergency power. 
  • Secure or lock lab doors and leave the building as soon as possible. 

After power returns:

  • Before entering the lab, please make sure to wear appropriate PPE and check for any odors or spills.
    • If there are spills, uncommon odors or disposal issues, please contact Environmental Health & Safety (413-545-2682). 
  • Check the airflow of fume hoods and biosafety cabinets (if applicable). Please wait at least 30 minutes after power returns before using any ventilation systems.
    • If the fume hoods is not working properly, please do not work in the fume hoods. Immediately label the hood and notify Physical Plant (413-545-6401).
      • This also applies to when ventilation exhaust drops out.  
  • Plug in, reset, restart, recalibrate and reprogram equipment according to manufacturer instructions. Make sure they are functioning properly. Equipment which hasn’t been disconnected may have automatically restarted when power restores.
    • For refrigerators, freezers, cold rooms (if applicable), ensure they return to safe working temperature before opening doors. Some refrigerators and freezers may need a manual restart.


Flooding and Water Damage in Labs

Laboratory floods may occur from various sources: 

Bursting water pipes, clogged drains, broken or leaking windows especially after heavy rainstorms, water main breaks, activated fire sprinkler, malfunctioning sump pumps, etc. 

If flooding occurs in the lab: 

  • Do not panic. Get some help first.
  • Call Facilities Service Center (413)545-6401 and Environmental Health & Safety (413-545-2682).
    • Notify your PI and other emergency contacts.
    • Please provide the following information: location of the leak, severity of the leak, whether there are people or equipment in imminent danger. 
  • Try to find the source and shut the water off if you could, only if it is safety to do so. Some equipment may cause serious electrical hazards. Do not touch the electrical appliances or outlets near water leak. 
  • As water or sewage may damage some equipment and samples, use plastic film to cover some equipment and bench tops. If possible and safe to do so, move some vital equipment, records, samples and hazardous materials to a safer location. 
  • Shut off all non-essential equipment if it’s safe to do so. 
  • Contact Facilities Service Center at (413)545-6401 for flood clean-up assistance.