Section 3: Emergency Procedures

SECTION 3: Emergency Procedures

For any emergency, including fires, chemical spills, injuries, accidents, explosions, and medical emergencies, dial 911 from any University phone including blue-light phones, located in common areas throughout campus If a University phone is unavailable or inaccessible during an emergency, dial (609) 258-3333 from a cell phone.  Public Safety personnel will respond, determine whether additional assistance is needed and alert others who can help.

Each department has written an individual emergency action plan and designated an emergency coordinator and a designated assembly point. The emergency coordinator is the first point of contact for questions about the emergency procedures and the emergency action plan. The designated assembly point is where building occupants should gather in the case of a building evacuation. Make sure you are accounted for before leaving the assembly point. Rescue personnel are required to enter a building and search for individuals who are thought to still be in the building.

Be sure to familiarize yourself with the emergency action plan for your department.


Fire (top)

In the event of a fire, Public Safety should be notified immediately at 911 or (609) 258-3333 and the following actions are recommended:

1. University policy states that individuals are not required to fight fires, but that those who choose to do so may fight small, incipient stage fires (no bigger than a wastepaper basket) as long as they have been trained in the proper use of fire extinguishers.

  • If you have been trained in the use of a fire extinguisher, fight the fire from a position where you can escape, only if you are confident that you will be successful.
  • A fire contained in a small vessel can usually be suffocated by covering the vessel with a lid of some sort.

2. If your clothing catches fire, drop to the floor and roll to smother the fire. If a co-worker’s clothing catches fire, get the person to the floor and roll him or her to smother the flames. Use a safety shower immediately thereafter.

3. If the fire is large or spreading, activate the fire alarm to alert building occupants. If the fire alarm does not work, or if the building is not equipped with one, notify the building occupants verbally of the need to evacuate. If possible, shut down any equipment which may add fuel to the fire. Do not turn off any hoods in the immediate area, as they will tend to keep the area free from smoke and fumes. Close the door behind you to prevent the fire’s spread.

4. Evacuate the building and await the arrival of Public Safety. Be prepared to inform them of the exact location, details of the fire, and chemicals that are stored and used in the area.

5. Do not re-enter the building until you are told to do so by Public Safety or the municipal fire official.

There are several types of fire extinguishers available. See the advisory to determine which type is best for a particular chemical or procedure.



TigerAlert (formerly PTENS) is an emergency notification system that allows authorized Princeton officials to send news and instructions simultaneously to individuals through landline phones, cellular phones, text messaging and e-mail.  Should your building be evacuated during an emergency, this system may be used to communicate important information via cell phone or e-mail.  Faculty and staff should enter emergency contact information through the Office of Human Resources self-service website:

Graduate and undergraduate students should enter emergency contact information through the TigerHub student portal:

If you have additional questions about the TigerAlert system, e-mail your question to 


Medical Emergencies (top)

In the event of any injury or illness where assistance is needed, contact Public Safety at 911 or (609) 258-3333. If an ambulance is needed, Public Safety will arrange for one. Public Safety staff can transport individuals with minor injuries to University Health Services at McCosh or Princeton Medical Center, as appropriate.

First Aid Kits

According to the Princeton University Policy on First Aid, first aid kits maintained by University departments and offices must:

  • be kept in sanitary condition;
  • be limited to simple household supplies such as band-aids and sterile gauze pads; and
  • include the following personal protective equipment:
  • at least one pair of large size examination or laboratory gloves
  • an airway resuscitator, such as the "pocket mask", for use in mouth-to-mouth resuscitation
  • a spill kit containing an appropriate disinfectant and other cleanup and disposal materials for handling spills of blood, vomitus, or other body fluids.

The supplies listed above have been approved by the University Employee Health group as required by OSHA regulations. No other first aid supplies are authorized unless arranged through Employee Health. Treatment requiring more elaborate supplies should be sought at McCosh Health Center or Princeton Medical Center.

All work-related injuries or illnesses must be reported to supervisors and the Chemical Hygiene Officer.


Chemical Exposures (top)

The following procedures should be followed in the event of chemical exposure. In all cases, the incident should be reported to your laboratory manager, supervisor or principal investigator, regardless of severity. Consult your department manager to determine whether or not a First Report of Accidental Injury or Occupational Illness form should be completed.

Chemicals on Skin or Clothing

  1. Immediately flush with water for no less than 15 minutes (except for Hydrofluoric Acid, Flammable Solids or >10% Phenol). For larger spills, the safety shower should be used.
  2. While rinsing, quickly remove all contaminated clothing or jewelry. Seconds count. Do not waste time because of modesty.
  3. Use caution when removing pullover shirts or sweaters to prevent contamination of the eyes.
  4. Check the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) to determine if any delayed effects should be expected.
  5. Discard contaminated clothing or launder them separately from other clothing. Leather garments or accessories cannot be decontaminated and should be discarded.

Do not use solvents to wash skin. They remove the natural protective oils from the skin and can cause irritation and inflammation. In some cases, washing with a solvent may facilitate absorption of a toxic chemical.

For flammable solids on skin, first brush off as much of the solid as possible, then proceed as described above.

For hydrofluoric acid, rinse with water for 5 minutes. Apply 2.5% calcium gluconate gel, a tube for your lab can be obtained prior through EHS.  If not readily available, continue rinsing for 15 minutes. In all cases, seek medical attention immediately. Go immediately to University Health Services at McCosh or Princeton Medical Center.

For phenol concentrations more than 10%, flush with water for 15 minutes or until the affected area turns from white to pink. Apply a solution of 400 molecular weight polyethylene glycol, if available. Do not use ethanol.  Proceed as described above.

Chemicals in Eyes

  1. Immediately flush eye(s) with water for at least fifteen minutes. The eyes must be forcibly held open to wash, and the eyeballs must be rotated so all surface area is rinsed. The use of an eye wash fountain is desirable so hands are free to hold the eyes open. If an eyewash is not available, pour water on the eye, rinsing from the nose outward to avoid contamination of the unaffected eye.
  2. Remove contact lenses while rinsing. Do not lose time removing contact lenses before rinsing. Do not attempt to rinse and reinsert contact lenses.
  3. Seek medical attention regardless of the severity or apparent lack of severity.  If an ambulance or transportation to McCosh Health Center is needed, contact Public Safety at 911 or (609) 258-3333. Explain carefully what chemicals were involved.  If easily accessible, bring an MSDS.

Chemical Inhalation

  1. Close containers, open windows or otherwise increase ventilation, and move to fresh air.
  2. If symptoms, such as headaches, nose or throat irritation, dizziness, or drowsiness persist, seek medical attention by calling Public Safety or going to University Health Services at McCosh. Explain carefully what chemicals were involved.
  3. Review the MSDS to determine what health effects are expected, including delayed effects.

Accidental Ingestion of Chemicals

  1. Immediately go to University Health Services at McCosh or contact the Poison Control Center at 800-962-1253 for instructions.
  2. Do not induce vomiting unless directed to do so by a health care provider.

Accidental Injection of Chemicals

Wash the area with soap and water and seek medical attention, if necessary.


Emergency Information Posters (top)

The purpose of the Emergency Information Poster is to provide an easily recognizable and consistent means of displaying essential information about the status and contents of laboratories and facilities, primarily for the benefit of persons attempting to cope with an explosion, fire, natural disaster, or other emergency. Such information is important for the safety of emergency personnel and is often of considerable value in evaluating and dealing with the emergency.

The poster is to be posted on the outside of doors leading into areas where there are potential hazards and an electronic copy is retained by Public Safety. If you have questions contact Joan Hutlzy (8-6251). EHS sends a semi-annual reminder to all Departmental Safety Managers to update the information on the posters.

Obtaining Posters

A poster pre-printed with the building name, room number and room diagram may be obtained from Joan Hutzly. You may also download a blank poster in MS Word format, however it is preferable to use the pre-printed poster. A sample poster is provided below. Follow the instructions for completing the poster.

Laser Emergency Information


The poster calls for the following information:

  1. The home and office phone numbers of persons responsible for and familiar with the laboratory operations.
  2. A floor plan of the room, with depictions of appropriate furniture, fume hoods, lab benches, storage cabinets.
  3. Location of principal storage areas for hazardous materials in the room as well as recommended personal protective equipment, following guidelines given in the Emergency Information Poster instructions.
  4. Specific emergency instructions or warnings, where necessary.


Reporting Accidents and Injuries (top)

All accidents, injuries, or near-misses should be reported to your supervisor or Principal Investigator.

If a laboratory worker believes that he or she has been over-exposed to a chemical, the worker or supervisor should contact EHS at 258-5294, regardless of whether or not signs or symptoms are noted. EHS will contact the individual and lab manager to conduct an incident investigation.

Princeton University EHS encourages a culture of reporting all incidents and near misses. Incident investigations are conducted to work towards safer working environments and practices. These investigations are not to assign blame or responsibility for an accident.

If an individual calls from home to report a work-related injury or illness, the information necessary to complete the first report should be obtained at that time. Individuals who are unable to travel to University Health Services at McCosh should be advised to call Employee Health (8-5035) for referrals to approved medical care providers.