In a chemical emergency, a hazardous amount of a chemical is spilled or released into the environment. If a major chemical emergency occurs, officials will warn you via siren, telephone or loudspeaker, or they may come to your door. If you witness or smell a chemical spill, or if there is a life-threatening emergency, call 911.
During a chemical emergency
- Listen to local TV or radio for instructions on whether to evacuate or stay where you are. Your life could depend on it.
- Local officials will tell you:
- The type of health hazard.
- The affected area.
- How to protect yourself.
- Evacuation routes, if necessary.
- Shelter locations.
- Type and location of medical facilities.
- The phone numbers to call if you need extra help.
- When officials say it is safe, open all doors and windows and turn on the air conditioning and ventilation systems to flush out any chemicals.
- Remember: a person or thing that has been exposed to a hazardous chemical might be contaminated and could contaminate others. Follow decontamination instructions from local officials.
- If you are outside during an incident, stay upstream, uphill and upwind. Gases and mists are generally heavier than air and hazardous materials can quickly be transported by water and wind. In general, try to go at least one-half mile (10 city blocks) from the danger area. However, for many incidents, you will need to go much farther.
- If you are in a motor vehicle, stop and find shelter in a permanent building if possible. If you must remain in your vehicle, keep the windows and vents closed and shut off the air conditioner and heater.