Chemical & Hazmat Events

A major chemical emergency is an accident that releases a hazardous amount of a chemical into the environment. Accidents can happen underground, on railroad tracks or highways, and at manufacturing plants. These accidents sometimes result in a fire or explosion, but many times you cannot see or smell anything unusual.

A major chemical emergency is an accident that releases a hazardous amount of a chemical into the environment. Accidents can happen underground, on railroad tracks or highways, and at manufacturing plants. These accidents sometimes result in a fire or explosion, but many times you cannot see or smell anything unusual.

Things To Remember:

  • Chemicals are everywhere. They are an important part of life.
  • The most common chemical accidents occur in our own homes and can be prevented. The best ways to avoid chemical accidents at home are to read and follow the directions for use, storage and disposal of the product. Don't mix products, especially household cleaning products.

During a Hazmat Event:

  • In life-threatening emergencies, call the Poison Control Center, EMS, 911 or the operator immediately. If you witness (or smell) a hazardous materials release, call 911.
  • If you are told to stay inside, close all windows and vents and turn off all fans, heating or cooling systems. Take family members and pets to a safe room, and listen to emergency broadcast stations for instructions. Seal the room if told to do so.
  • If told to evacuate, do so immediately.
  • If you find someone who appears to have been injured from chemical exposure, make sure you are not in danger before administering first aid.
  • Stay away from the incident site to minimize the risk of contamination.
  • If you are caught outside during an incident, try to 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.

Stay Informed

In the event of a major chemical emergency, you will be notified by the authorities. To get your attention, a siren could sound, you might be called by telephone, or emergency personnel might drive by and give instructions over a loudspeaker. Officials could even come to your door. Listen carefully to radio or television emergency alert stations and strictly follow instructions. Your life could depend on it.

You Will Be Told:

Do not call the telephone company, and do not call EMS, 911, or the operator for information. Dial these numbers only for a possible life-threatening emergency.

  • When authorities advise people in your area to leave their shelters, open all doors and windows and turn on the air conditioning and ventilation systems. These measures will flush out any chemicals that infiltrated the building.
  • Be aware that a person or item that has been exposed to a hazardous chemical might be contaminated and could contaminate other people or items. Follow decontamination instructions from local authorities.
  • The type of health hazard
  • The area affected
  • 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.