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Backup Freezers


The biology department provides an emergency back-up freezer for labs to access and move some of its most critical items into this freezer during a power outage or in case of a personal freezer failure.                                                                                                                    

This policy ensures each lab has access to a -80 freezer during a power failure or personal equipment failure to protect critical items.
  • Power failure: If we lose standard power then each lab will be able to move (at least some) of its most critical items into this freezer.  
  • Personal equipment failure: In the event that your personal freezer unexpectedly fails (or if you need to defrost your freezer for maintenance), you can use this back-up freezer to store your materials while fixing your freezer.  

Getting your information into the system:

1. Before being allowed to place any items in the freezer you must first fill out a "freezer back-up request" form You can update your request by clicking on the link "my freezer requests" under "My Profile" on the departmental website. 

  • If your lab's freezer needs repair and you would like to use the back-up freezer you need to fill out the request for each time this happens (if you are currently dealing with an emergency you may fill out this form after moving your items.  Please see below!) 
  • If you are filling out the request for your lab to be granted a space in the back-up in case of a power failure you only need to fill out this form once (updating the information as needed). Before filling out the request form make sure you have identified a lab "freezer contact" and are familar with the dimensions of your freezer boxes/racks.

2. Submit "freezer back-up request" form.

3. Receive a permanent location in the freezer where you will place your items (if there is a power failure).

Procedures in case of a power failure:

When the power goes out…

  • Do not immediately open your freezer! Your freezer should hold temperature for a couple hours (if the door remains closed).
  • If there is reason to think the power will not return in a reasonable amount of time, then the freezer contacts for each lab are notified by text. Please note- both the primary and secondary contact for that lab will receive the text message.  Freezer contacts for that lab will then need to discuss among themselves who will be responsible for moving materials.
  • After this text, you can get into the CGC using card-swipe (you should get card-swipe access) and the backup freezer key will be in a red box on the wall to the right of the freezer (if you’re first to arrive, break the plastic, obtain the key, and open the freezer).
  • You (or someone you contacted) will quickly transfer your materials to the freezer in a pre-assigned space (there will be a map on the front of the freezer).  You may have to first remove a “thermal load” placeholder (whose presence will help keep the freezer at temp). There is a large cooler on top of the freezer to facilitate moving.
  • [We recommend you have a dedicated rack in your lab freezer that holds the critical samples you will want to transfer, this rack would also need to meet the dimensions of the department back-up freezer.  If a power outage occurs you can then take this whole rack and transport it from your freezer to the back-up.]
  • After the power is restored, you have 48 hours to retrieve your materials.

Personal equipment failure

When your freezer breaks…

One of us will unlock the freezer, provide you with a key, and you may move your (ideally labeled) materials into the freezer. 

If a lab is planning on using the freezer for something like defrosting their own freezer for repair, they should move their items into the -80 in the morning. This ensures there is time during the day for the freezer to get back down to temperature. If you are moving items into the freezer, you (or someone from your lab) needs to be available to manage the alarm during that process.

  • Fill out the "freezer back-up request" form on-line, select "Equipment Failure" under request type.
  • Print and place your “freezer back-up request” form on the front of the freezer in the plastic sleeve.
  • On the front of the freezer is a laminated freezer map for equipment failures & a pen.  Upon moving your items into the freezer, shade-in and initial the appropriate shelves/space on the freezer map that you are occupying.
  • Please note: the freezer should remained locked at all times when you are not accessing it. This is important to prevent unauthorized/uninformed use of this freezer and "lost materials" when contents are moved to other locations after repair.
  • Seek your repair in a timely manner, transport your materials back to your fixed freezer as soon as possible, and return the key to one of the freezer managers.

Coincident Events

If someone else’s freezer breaks after you’ve stored the materials from your broken freezer…

  • All parties will be contacted and each party will split the freezer evenly (labeling all their items)
  • If the freezer contact is not available, we will remove materials to make room for the cohabitant’s materials.

If the power fails after you’ve stored your materials from your broken freezer…

  • You will receive the email/text mentioned above.
  • With the exception of your emergency rack, if you have one, all of your materials will be removed to make room for everyone


For general freezer questions or if you need to talk to a freezer manager about reserving space or ordering a freezer rack: 

If you need access to the freezer: 

Please note: because the internet is often not available during a power outage, it would be a good idea to educate your lab members on power outage procedures, print out the emergency procedures, make sure you note your assigned rack location, and store this information and your emergency rack in an accessible place.

Freezer Information

  • The freezer unit is a -86oC Revco UXF 600BX labeled as “BIOLOGY BACK-UP”
  • It is located in CGC room PAA A079 on back-up emergency power

Rack Information

  • The power failure back-up system will work most smoothly if each lab has a rack “ready to go” (then the rack can be moved as a single unit).
  • This requires that the rack fit your freezer and the back-up freezer.  Rack dimensions:
    • 26.75” depth x 9.25” height x 5.25” width
  • If no rack fits both freezer, and/or if you only have a handful of boxes to move, then we can provide a rack in back-up freezer, ready and waiting for you.
  • If you have unusually shaped items (items that do not fit in a rack), come talk to us (before the power goes out). 

Date last changed Nov 29th, 2023 @ 15:33:23 PST