What are some lab safety tips for kids?

Science experiments can be educational, entertaining and even fascinating, but certain safety precautions have to be followed. Before students even enter the lab, make sure that the lab is equipped with safety equipment, such as an emergency shower in case a student catches on fire or spills corrosive chemicals on himself; an eye wash station for quick flushing of eyes; a fire extinguisher; and fire blankets. Distribute rubber or latex gloves to wear when the students dissect animals or human body parts, and provide safety tongs for handling hot materials. There should be at least two unobstructed ways to leave the lab in case of emergency.

You, as the teacher, should set a good example by wearing safety goggles and an apron when you do experiments. Try to pass on a balanced attitude to the kids; they shouldn't be frightened to try an experiment, but they shouldn't be sloppy or careless, either. The National Science Teachers Association recommends keeping the number of students in the lab to 24 or fewer to prevent crowding and to allow better supervision. Demonstrate how to do the experiment before allowing the children to conduct it, and never let the children work in the lab without adult supervision. When you leave the lab, make sure to turn off all the burners, hot plates and other equipment.

Other safety tips for children include not fooling around in the lab, not running or pushing each other, keeping personal items off the lab tables, not eating or drinking in the lab, keeping long hair tied back, and washing hands when they finish an experiment. They shouldn't wear sandals if they'll be working with heavy items or liquids that can spill. Before they do a laboratory experiment, they should be reminded to read the directions through once or twice. If they're working with chemicals, they should always read the labels to know what additional precautions they may have to take.