Stanford University

Health & Safety Guidance for Researchers in Buildings with Power Outages    

Utilize the following laboratory re-entry guidance after the power is restored before occupants resume work. If researchers or laboratory staff have questions or concerns regarding re-entry following a power outage, please contact Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) at 650-723-0448.

Laboratory Building Re-Entry Requirements

  • Alarm horns and strobes are active.
  • The power is off / lights cannot be turned on.
  • Exit signs are not illuminated.
  • Hazardous conditions (e.g., obstructions, strong odors, chemical spills) are present.
Laboratory Room Re-Entry Assessment and Response
  1. Ensure that all emergency walkways and exits are clear from any obstruction.
  2. Ensure the ventilation system in the laboratory room has been on for at least 30 minutes after AlertSU all-clear message or notifications from building management.
  3. Enter rooms and work spaces with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as appropriate.
  4. Check all equipment.
    1. Be aware of equipment that might have automatically restarted when power is restored.
    2. Check for hot plates and other heating equipment
    3. Reset and restart equipment per manufacturer instructions.
    4. Recalibrate and reprogram equipment as necessary.
  5. Check for spills and wet surfaces, especially on floors and walkways. Be vigilant about liquids near electrical equipment and power cords. Do not assume all clear liquids are water, many chemicals are also clear. If in doubt, isolate the area, warn others and call EH&S.
  6. Ensure that interlocks, light curtains, powered machines, and all engineering equipment control hazards operate properly.
  7. Exercise caution when entering laser areas, and wear proper PPE in case the laser has reactivated post power outage.
  8. If building systems including fume hoods, biosafety cabinets, and warm or cold rooms fail to restart or operate properly, contact Facilities at 650 723-2281 (or SOM dispatch at 650-721-2146).
    1. Fume Hoods (if applicable): Confirm air flow is restored on airflow monitors.
    2. Biosafety Cabinets (if applicable): Run cabinet blowers for 5 minutes then disinfect the biosafety cabinet prior to use.

If there is a life-threatening emergency, call 911 immediately.

For non-health-threatening chemical spill, immediately notify EH&S at 650-725-9999.



This document outlines how researchers are to manage laboratory and research operations during conditions when buildings are on generator power or no power.

Non-essential research operations should be discontinued. LBRE will be notifying local building management when research operations may resume. 

Lab and research areas should be brought to and maintained in a safe condition, as feasibly possible, without creating undue hazards or risks to health and safety. This could include winding down work, putting materials away properly, ensuring chemical cabinets are locked, etc. 

Essential equipment should be plugged into emergency power (red plugs) as available. Please understand that current conditions are dynamic, and labs should plan for a prolonged outage.

Actions to Take Now:

  • Do not start new work or experiments involving hazardous materials and equipment.
  • Ensure lighting is adequate, and clear the floor of any hazards.
  • Turn off plumbed natural gas.
  • Make sure glove boxes are maintained on emergency power. Do not disturb contents to ensure that reactive materials are not exposed to oxygen or water vapor. 
  • Return all animals to proper housing areas to be cared for by VSC husbandry staff. If animals are housed in a PI-managed space, contact the VSC to ensure they are aware of your space and can provide husbandry items (cages, food, water) as needed.
  • Non-essential equipment should be shut down and unplugged to prevent surges including hot plates, spinners, sterilizers, water baths, and other equipment not being used. 
  • Secure vented enclosures including fume hoods and glove boxes. No work should take place in fume hoods until normal conditions are restored. Assume ventilation may not be normal and perform a check that containers are closed and secured, and sashes are down. Please note that alarms most likely indicate failure. 

Beware of Hazards

  • Be aware of slip hazards from water on floors and surfaces from melted ice near refrigerators and freezers.
  • Dry ice poses an asphyxiation hazard, especially in small, unventilated spaces; do not use it for cooling samples unless safe to do so.


For more information regarding re-entry into laboratory environments following a power outage, please reference the Laboratory Re-Entry Guidance

For emergency response information regarding power outages, click here

For information on how to prepare for a power outage in a research facility, click here.






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