The first thing that any scientist or engineer will do is think about whether or not something they are about to do is safe. No experiment is so important that it's worth hurting yourself or other people in the process. While there aren't a set of rules that are guaranteed to keep you safe, you'll always need to think things through for yourself, here are some general pointers for being safe while doing our challenges:
- Never work alone - ask an adult to help you.
This is a rule our engineers follow too - it's important to have someone with you the whole time because they can help you and stop you from doing anything dangerous.
- Consider every step of what you're doing - from getting the materials together at the start to clearing it up at the end.
You don't want to get all the way to the end of your experiment and then realise you've done something in a way that stops you being able to clear it up safely! Don't let yourself get into a dangerous situation by not thinking your plan through.
- Warn people around you what you're about to do.
You might know exactly what's going to happen but if someone else around you walks past at just the wrong moment or tries to tidy up something you're working on - they could get hurt or spoil your experiment. Just let the people you share space with know what's going to happen.
- Beware of moving parts!
Even something as small as a piece of paper can hurt if it's moving fast enough. If you have moving parts like springs, levers or any kind of flying objects, it's really important to keep your fingers out of the way so they don't get pinched and never point something that will launch a flying object at anyone else! Even if you think it won't fire the object - there's always a chance that something could go wrong.
- Always ask for help with tools.
Make sure you are being careful with tools - a slip could happen at any time and it's important to make sure that, if you do slip, you won't hurt yourself or anyone else with a tool. Keep your fingers out of the way whenever possible while using tools.
- Be careful of any sharp edges - especially if you've cut any materials like metal.
A product might be safe to start with but as soon as you start to modify something you could be making it dangerous. Metals especially end up with really sharp edges - even something as 'everyday' as a tube of crisps can end up having sharp edges!
- The most injuries happen from slips, trips and falls.
Keep the area you're working in tidy! Don't let cables or wires trail across the floor, clean up any spills as soon as they happen, and don't stack things up on top of each other because eventually they will topple over!