Hazardous Materials Incidents

Hazardous materials are substances which, because of their chemical, physical, or biological nature, pose a potential risk to life, health, and property if they are released. Hazards can exist during production, storage, transportation, use, or disposal.

What to Do in a Hazardous Materials Incident

  • If you witness a hazardous materials incident, call 911.
  • Avoid incident site to minimize risk of contamination.
  • If you are caught outside during an incident, try to stay upstream, uphill, and upwind.
  • If you are in a car, close windows and shut off ventilation.

Shelter in Place Tips

  • Follow instructions given by emergency authorities.
  • Reduce toxic vapors from entering your home by sealing entry routes and closing doors and windows.
  • Turn off all ventilation systems.
  • Seal gaps around window air conditioning units, kitchen exhaust fan grills, stove and dryer vents with duct tape.
  • Close as many internal doors as possible.
  • Close all fireplace dampers.
  • If warned of potential outdoor explosion, close drapes, curtains and shades, and stay from windows to prevent injury from broken glass.
  • Stay in protected, interior areas of building where toxic vapors are reduced.
  • Listen to news media for instructions.
  • If evacuation recommended, do so immediately Listen to a battery powered radio for instructions.
  • If time permits, close all windows, turn off ventilation system to minimize contamination.
  • Use recommended travel routes recommended by local authorities.
  • Avoid contact with spilled liquid materials, airborne mist, or condensed solid chemical deposit.
  • Do no eat or drink food or water that may have been contaminated.

What to Do After an Incident

  • Do not return home until authorities say it is safe.
  • Upon returning home, open windows, doors, and turn on fans to provide ventilation.
  • Find out from local authorities how to clean up your land and property.
  • If a person or item has been exposed to hazardous chemicals, use the following the procedures:
    • Follow decontamination instructions from local authorities.
    • Seek medical treatment for symptoms that may be related to the hazardous materials release.
    • If medical help is not immediately available and you might be contaminated:
      • Remove your clothes, shower, and put on clean clothes.
      • Seek medical help as soon as possible.
      • Place exposed clothing in a sealed container and find out proper disposal procedures.