Archive for the ‘Incubator’ Category



Incubators are things used to put newborn babies in so that they are kept at the correct temperature, humidity and oxygen levels.
They also have incubators in Labs for growing cultures, this article does not refer to them.
They have a transparent plastic canopy with doors in the sides so that you can put your hands in to attend to the baby.
They have a low power heater and a fan to circulate the air, the heater will be controlled in two ways on some machines, the first is to monitor the air temperature and use this to control the heater, the second is to monitor the skin temperature of the baby and use this to control the heater.
In both cases the temperature of the air will be kept to within 0.1 of a degree or so of what you want it to be.
In England you are supposed to measure the air temperature 100 mm. above the centre of the mattress.
There will be alarms that will warn you of a number of things such as mains failure or over temperature.

This is an item like ventilators and anaesthetic machines that need to be checked twice a year really well and a function check after each cleaning.
Check that it cycles to the temperature set, and is able to maintain it. Note; You are not supposed to use mercury in glass thermometers for checking temperatures inside an incubator, the risk is that if it breaks and the incubator gets contaminated with mercury and even after a good clean it will be impossible to be absolutely sure it is clear of mercury and its vapour.
Check that the over temperature alarm works at the correct setting.
Check that the dials, should there be any, read correctly.
Check the electrical safety of the machine.
Should you get any problems they will be of an electronic nature.
From time to time you may get the complaint of over-temperature, first check that the room air temperature is not too high or that the machine is not sat with the sun shining through the window on to the canopy.
A fan failure alarm may indicate that the fan motor bearings need lubricating or replacing. If you live in a large town or city you may be able to buy the correct bearings from an ordinary supplier of roller bearings for industrial use.
On a day-to-day basis this involves care of the canopy, being made of Perspex it scratches easily.
Take care of the doors and catches, and the seals.

General Cleaning.
This is done with soap and water, for this you may have to use drinking water if the tap water is not considered to be clean enough.
A good wash out on all the surfaces and corners.
Next comes a very important part and that is to dry the washed parts VERY well, use plenty of clean paper or a clean cloth and make sure that everything is really dry, get right into the odd corners, if you leave any moisture it will become a breeding ground for bacteria. If you live in a hot sunny place leave it in the sun for a while to dry out.
The plastic canopy should not be cleaned with any abrasive compounds as it will get scratched, you can get perspex polish, if you don’t have any you may have to put up with a few scratches.
It may be that all your polishing of the canopy has caused a build up of static electricity, if it has not then you have not been polishing hard enough, if it has then wipe it over with a little 70 % methylated spirits.

Full Disinfecting.
This will take you much longer and you will need some chemicals to do it.
Proceed as follows;

a. Remove any porous material from the incubator.

b. Place a bowl of FORMALDEHYDE in the incubator (about 250 ml).

c. Turn the incubator on and leave it with the circulating fan going and heating for at least 1.5 hours.

d. Remove the bowl of FORMALDEHYDE, and replace it with a bowl of 20 % w/v AMMONIA solution.
Once again leave it for 1.5 hours circulating and heating.

The Ammonia is used to get rid of the smell of the Formalin, to neutralise it.

e. Remove the AMMONIA, strip the machine down and clean it with soap and water.
Whilst you are doing this any residual smell should have gone, if not then leave it to run until the smell has gone.

Notes On Formaldehyde.
Sometimes you will see a bottle labelled FORMALIN, this is a 36 %w/v solution of Formaldehyde in water.
Formaldehyde is an agent for disinfecting surfaces, it has a VERY unpleasant smell and should not be inhaled, so try to do your handling and cleaning outside or in a well-ventilated area.
To be effective, it must be dissolved at an adequate concentration in water close to the organism to be killed. Like any other gas, formaldehyde penetrates only slowly into static air spaces, and even when it is allowed to flow freely over a surface, any film of organic matter such as blood, pus or sputum, may so hinder the penetration to underlying organisms as to increase ten-fold the time required for a satisfactory kill. Prior to disinfecting, therefore, equipment should be cleaned of all gross contamination and then arranged to permit a free flow of the gas over all infected surfaces.
The properties of formaldehyde make it unsuitable for the disinfecting of porous substances such as filters and fabrics, including all bedding material. Any such material should be first removed and then cleaned by some other means.
In order to avoid the precipitation of Formalin vapour, the disinfecting should take place at a temperature above 20 degrees centigrade. Formaldehyde often has a stabiliser added to it called METHANOL, if it is not kept in store for long it may not have this stabiliser added. It is added to prevent polymerisation, (if you leave the top off the bottle of Formaldehyde a white powder will form around the top, this is called METALDEHYDE, and used to be made into tablets for disinfecting small items.)
When you buy Formaldehyde for disinfecting do not use industrial grades as this may well have up to 10% METHANOL added, this high concentration of Methanol will damage some plastics such as Perspex, of which the canopy may be made.
The type you buy for disinfecting should only have 1 % Methanol in it. Store it in a dark coloured bottle out of the sunlight.

Click here for an excellent article on incubators from Frank’s hospital workshop, thanks to Frank.



Read Full Post »