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5.5.4 Using Emergency Eyewash and Showers

Preplan your experiments and include emergency procedures. At minimum identify the locations of the nearest emergency shower and eyewash before working with hazardous chemicals.

In the event of an emergency (chemical spill or splash) where an eyewash or emergency shower is needed, follow these procedures:

 Eyewashes:

  1. If you get a chemical in your eyes, yell for help if someone else is in the lab. 
  2. Immediately go to the nearest eyewash and push the activation handle all the way on. 
  3. Put your eyes or other exposed area in the stream of water and begin flushing. 
  4. Open your eyelids with you fingers and roll your eyeballs around to get maximum irrigation of the eyes. 
  5. Keep flushing for at least 15 minutes or until help arrives. The importance of flushing the eyes first for at least 15 minutes cannot be overstated! For accidents involving Hydrofluoric acid, follow the special Hydrofluoric acid precautions
  6. If you are alone, call 911 after you have finished flushing your eyes for at least 15 minutes. 
  7. Seek medical attention. 
  8. Complete an Injury/Illness Exposure Report.

If someone else in the lab needs to use an eyewash, assist them to the eyewash, activate the eyewash for them, and help them get started flushing their eyes using the procedures above and then call 911. After calling 911, go back to assist the person using the eyewash and continue flushing for 15 minutes or until help arrives and have the person seek medical attention.

Emergency Showers:

  1. If you get chemical contamination on your skin resulting from an accident, yell for help if someone else is in the lab. 
  2. Immediately go to the nearest emergency shower and pull the activation handle. 
  3. Once under the stream of water, begin removing your clothing to wash off all chemicals.  In some instances, clothing may not be removed, (although it is best to remove contaminated clothing), it is more important to flush away chemical contamination.
  4. Keep flushing for at least 15 minutes or until help arrives. The importance of flushing for at least 15 minutes cannot be overstated! If you spill Hydrofluoric acid on yourself, follow the special Hydrofluoric acid precautions
  5. If you are alone, call 911 after you have finished flushing for at least 15 minutes. 
  6. Seek medical attention. 
  7. Complete an Injury/Illness Exposure Reporting.

If someone else in the lab needs to use an emergency shower (and it is safe for you to do so), assist them to the emergency shower, activate the shower for them, and help them get started flushing using the procedures above and then call 911. After calling 911, go back to assist the person using the shower and continue flushing for 15 minutes or until help arrives and have the person seek medical attention.

Note: Although an emergency is no time for modesty, if a person is too modest and reluctant to use the emergency shower, you can assist them by using a lab coat or other piece of clothing or barrier to help ease their mind while they undress under the shower. If you are assisting someone else, you should wear gloves to avoid contaminating yourself. When using an emergency shower, do not be concerned about the damage from flooding. The important thing to remember is to keep flushing for 15 minutes.