An incubator is an enclosed capsule made of a solid medical-grade see-through material in which one can maintain temperature and humidity and several other environmental conditions quite easily. It is a device that proves to be highly useful when growing and maintaining microbiological cultures. It can be regulated at the most optimal levels to facilitate growth, hatching, and reproduction. You can find 3 primary types of incubators, namely, poultry incubators, infant incubators, and bacteriological incubators.
Just like any other critical piece of equipment in a laboratory, an incubator also comes attached with a set of protocols and safety standards. It is a vital piece of equipment and would require constant and diligent care from the lab technician or any skilled and qualified personnel who uses the incubator regularly.
Let Us Understand A Few Best Practices With Regards To Its General Positioning And Hygiene
It all begins with the proper positioning of your incubator thermometer hygrometer and there is no other way around it. proper placement ensures the efficiency of the equipment and reduces exposure to any potential contaminants as well.
- Keep the units away from vents and doorways. This prevents them from getting contaminated and reduces the chance of fungal infestation and growth and prevents temperature fluctuations.
- Do not let the equipment come in contact with direct sunlight. This can cause temperature fluctuations and also disruption of the anti-condensation feature in the incubator.
- Before setting up the incubator you will have to ensure that there are at least 3 inches of space between the unit and the walls. This will give the heat coming out of the unit enough space to dissipate.
- If you have a floor incubator, make sure to set it up on a stand. This will limit the risk of contamination significantly.
- You are never supposed to place your incubator in a humid or moist area. Failure to do so is going to encourage fungal growth.
- Keep away any kind of machinery and other equipment that causes or might be a source of vibration. Vibrations or any kind of abrupt movements affect cell growth adversely.
- The cleanliness and hygiene of the area where the unit has been placed is also a must. You need to place the incubator in a temperature-controlled environment with impeccable hygiene conditions.
When talking about regular cleanliness and hygiene, you can never take this factor lightly. A few aspects that you will always have to take care of while maintaining the cleanliness of the incubator are as follows:
- Whenever handling containers that are to be placed inside the unit, wearing gloves is an absolute necessity
- Change the water in the humidity pan at least once a week
- Make it a point to clean the chambers and shelves and all other removable parts regularly
- Clean the outside of the unit and especially the door handle
- The fan and fan wheels also need to be cleaned every few months
You will find that some incubator units already have a built-in automated decontamination cycle. Use this after your regular cleaning procedures.
Maintaining the cleanliness and hygiene of an incubator is only the first step. Regular temperature calibrations, humidity maintenance, precautions when performing sensitive experiments, and procedures on lab cultures are equally important too. Incubators are critical pieces of equipment and only a skilled and experienced practitioner should be allowed to handle them.