Freezer Alarms


Freezer Alarms are Vital for Safe Storage of Biological Materials

Quite apart from the effects that extremes of heat and cold may have upon how comfortable we as human beings may feel, changes in temperature can influence all manner of other activities. Some of these may be only of minor significance but others can be crucial depending upon the prevailing circumstances. It is very likely, for example, that many of those who read this article will have fallen victim to the effects of a power outage, particularly during those periods when Eskom decides to implement load shedding.

The consequence of the wholesale thawing of one’s personal stock of frozen foods or even that of an entire supermarket, although it may not be fatal, can certainly be a massive inconvenience as well as an unwelcome added expense. However, in some cases, even a relatively small fluctuation in temperature could have far more serious consequences and to avoid these, installing freezer alarms can be a wise precaution.

Transplantation surgery is one field in which extremely close monitoring and precise control of temperatures can be crucial. Aspirated bone marrow and other live tissue, unless they are to be used immediately after they have been harvested from the host, will need to be stored under stringent conditions. Sterile conditions and low temperature are essential to ensure that they retain their viability and remain uncontaminated until they are needed. These are not conditions that can be achieved with a domestic refrigerator and, instead, special equipment designed to attain and maintain the ultra-low temperatures required for cryopreservation are necessary.

Depending upon their precise purpose, these may take the form of liquid nitrogen-filled storage vessels designed to transport live biological materials between points or static, controlled-rate freezers of varying capacity, fitted with alarms and that can be programmed to automatically maintain the conditions best suited to the specific samples to be preserved. Such materials may include human or animal gametes and embryos for research into in-vitro fertilisation or assisted reproduction technology as well as stem cells, cell lines, vaccines, and blood bags for transfusion.

Volume requirements can vary considerably between disciplines and individual labs, for which the UK-based company Planer, a world leader in the field of cryopreservation and supplier to most of the developed countries, has made ample provision with range of products that includes models that are small yet economical enough for the storage of a single straw, or sufficiently spacious to accommodate several thousand vials. Whatever the volume requirement or the nature of the samples to be handled may be; tight control, reproducibility and, in particular, the highest possible levels of cell viability are the essential qualities of a desirable freezer.

Nevertheless, just because a product may display these qualities, this does not detract from the need to install reliable alarms as a basic precaution. Also, installing a backup generator or a UPS as a temporary source of auxiliary power in case of an outage could, quite literally, prove to be a lifesaver. Specialised products such as these require a specialised distributor and, in South Africa, Planer’s advanced range of cryopreservation products that includes event loggers, Dewar flasks, sample tracking software and, of course, programmable freezers and alarms, are the speciality of the team of experts at IEPSA.

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