Hazardous Materials

Hazardous materials are chemical substances, which if released or misused can pose a threat to the environment or health. These chemicals are used in industry, agriculture, medicine, research, and consumer goods. Hazardous materials come in the form of explosives, flammable and combustible substances, poisons, and radioactive materials. These substances are most often released as a result of transportation accidents or because of chemical accidents in plants.

A hazardous materials accident can occur anywhere. Communities located near chemical manufacturing plants are particularly at risk. However, hazardous materials are transported on our roadways, railways and waterways daily, so any area is considered vulnerable to an accident.

Things To Do If Caught At The Scene Of A Hazardous Materials Accident

  • If you see an accident, call 9-1-1 or the local fire department to report the nature and location of the accident as soon as possible.
  • Move away from the accident scene and help keep others away.
  • Do not walk into or touch any of the spilled substance. 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 Asked To Stay Indoors ("in-place sheltering")

  • Seal gaps under doorways and windows with wet towels and duct tape.
  • Seal gaps around window and air conditioning units, bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans, and stove and dryer vents with duct tape and plastic sheeting, wax paper or aluminum wrap.
  • Close fireplace dampers. Close off nonessential rooms such as storage areas, laundry rooms and extra bedrooms.
  • Turn off ventilation systems.

If Asked To Evacuate

  • 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 such as a flashlight and extra batteries, a portable, battery-operated radio and extra batteries, a first aid kit, emergency food and water, essential medicines cash and credit cards and sturdy shoes.
  • Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance--infants, the elderly and people with disabilities.

Things To Do After A Hazardous Materials Incident

  • Return home only when authorities say it is safe.
  • Follow local instructions concerning the safety of food and water.
  • Clean up and dispose of residue carefully. Follow instructions from emergency officials concerning clean-up methods.