Each year we have one or two storms severe enough that the safety of the campus community is in question, and the University makes the decision to close. Under these circumstances all University faculty, staff and students must leave campus and remain away until the University opens again. This means that no one should continue working or remain in offices or laboratories. For several reasons, researchers working in a lab are at significantly increased risk of sustaining hazard or injury. For example:
- No one should ever work alone in a lab. During times of campus closure there are fewer people available to hear a call for help or to assist in times of trouble.
- Fume hoods, biosafety cabinets, and general building supply and exhaust air used to protect building occupants do not operate during power outages and may suddenly go off, which could cause exposures to hazardous materials.
- There may be limited emergency personnel available to deal with a lab emergency. There may be many emergencies to attend to and roads and access routes may be impassible.
- Pipe breaks can result in loss of water supply to eyewashes and drench showers.
While the campus should be able to maintain power to most areas, and Physical Plant does everything they can to ensure it, there may be periods of short or more extended campus power outages and other effects. In addition, there could be significant off-campus impacts for the campus community that could prevent access to campus for a period of time.
Please familiarize yourself with the Emergency Preparedness Checklist for Researchers contained in the link at the top of this page. In addition EH&S is happy to assist departments develop a continuity of operations plan that ensures essential functions of your department can continue across a wide range of potential emergencies.