Hazardous Materials Incident
Chemicals are found everywhere and can be hazardous to humans or the environment if used, or released improperly. Hazards can occur during production, storage, transportation, use or disposal.
Before a Hazardous Materials Incident:
The following are things you can do to protect yourself, your family and your property from the effects of a hazardous materials incident:
Build an Emergency Supply Kit, which includes items like non-perishable food, water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra flashlights and batteries. You should add plastic sheeting, duct tape and scissors to the kit in order be better prepared for a hazardous materials incident. You may want to prepare a portable kit and keep it in your car in case you are told to evacuate.
Make a Family Emergency Plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.
During a Hazardous Materials Incident:
Listen to local radio or television stations for detailed information and instructions. Follow the instructions carefully. You should stay away from the area to minimize the risk of contamination. Remember that some toxic chemicals are odorless.
If you are asked to evacuate:
Do so immediately.
Stay tuned to a radio or television for information on evacuation routes, temporary shelters, and procedures.
Follow the routes recommended by the authorities--shortcuts may not be safe. Leave at once.
If you have time, minimize contamination in the house by closing all windows, shutting all vents, and turning off attic fans.
Take pre-assembled disaster supplies.
Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance--infants, elderly people and people with access and functional needs.
If you are caught outside:
Stay upstream, uphill, and upwind! In general, try to go at least one-half mile (usually 8-10 city blocks) from the danger area. Move away from the accident scene and help keep others away.
Do not walk into or touch any spilled liquids, airborne mists, or condensed solid chemical deposits. Try not to inhale gases, fumes and smoke. If possible, cover mouth with a cloth while leaving the area.
Stay away from accident victims until the hazardous material has been identified.
If in your car, keep car windows and vents closed and shut off the air conditioner and heater.
If you are requested to stay indoors:
Bring pets inside.
Close and lock all exterior doors and windows. Close vents, fireplace dampers, and as many interior doors as possible.
Turn off air conditioners and ventilation systems. In large buildings, set ventilation systems to 100 percent re-circulation so that no outside air is drawn into the building. If this is not possible, ventilation systems should be turned off.
Go into the pre-selected shelter room. This room should be above ground and have the fewest openings to the outside.
Seal gaps under/around doorways and windows with wet towels or plastic sheeting and duct tape.
Use material to fill cracks and holes in the room, such as those around pipes.
If gas or vapors could have entered the building, take shallow breaths through a cloth or a towel. Avoid eating or drinking any food or water that may be contaminated.
After a Hazardous Materials Incident:
The following are guidelines for the period following a hazardous materials incident:
Go to a designated public shelter if you have been told to evacuate or you feel it is unsafe to remain in your home. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345).
Act quickly if you have come in to contact with or have been exposed to hazardous chemicals.
Follow decontamination instructions from local authorities. You may be advised to take a thorough shower or you may be advised to stay away from water and follow another procedure.
Seek medical treatment for unusual symptoms as soon as possible.
Place exposed clothing and shoes in tightly sealed containers. Do not allow them to contact other materials. Call local authorities to find out about proper disposal.
Advise everyone who comes in to contact with you that you may have been exposed to a toxic substance.
Listen to local radio or television stations for the latest emergency information.
Help a neighbor who may require special assistance - infants, elderly people and people with access and functional needs. People who care for them or who have large families may need additional assistance in emergency situations.
Return home only when authorities say it is safe. Open windows and vents and turn on fans to provide ventilation.
Find out from local authorities how to clean up your land and property.
Report any lingering vapors or other hazards to your local emergency services office.