Hazardous Materials

Hazardous Materials Accidents

Hazardous material accidents can occur anywhere. We have several companies which handle extremely hazardous chemicals in a safe manner. However, hazardous materials are transported on our roadways, railways, and waterways daily, so any area is considered vulnerable to an accident.

Preparing for a HAZMAT release

  • Learn to detect the presence of hazardous material, especially in the home
  • Some cause physical reactions such as watering eyes or nausea
  • Not all have a taste or odor
  • Some exist beneath the ground surface and have an oil or foam-like appearance
  • Find out evacuations plans for your workplace, children's schools, and community response plans
  • Be ready to evacuate and determine several routes out of your area
  • Ask about community and industry warning systems

If you hear a siren or other warning signal, turn on a radio or television for further emergency information.

Family Disaster Supplies

  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Portable, battery-operated radio and extra batteries
  • First aid kit and manual
  • Emergency food and water
  • Non-electric can opener
  • Essential medicines
  • Cash and credit cards
  • Sturdy shoes

Family Emergency Communication Plan

It is a real possibility that family members would be separated during a HAZMAT accident, especially if it occurs during the day when adults are at work and children are at school.

Develop a plan for reuniting after the disaster. Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the family contact.

After a disaster it's often easier to call longdistance. Make sure everyone knows the name, address, and phone number of the contact person.

If Caught at the Scene of an Accident

  • Call 9-1-1 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
  • Cover mouth with a cloth while leaving the area to avoid inhaling gases, fumes, and smoke
  • Stay away from accident victims until the hazardous material has been identified
  • Try to stay upstream, uphill, and upwind of the accident

If You're Asked to Stay Indoors (Shelter-in-Place)

  • Seal house so contaminants cannot enter
  • Close and lock windows and doors
  • Seal gaps under doorways and windows with wet towels and duct tape
  • Seal gaps around window and a/c units, exhaust fans, and vents
  • Close fireplace dampers
  • Close off non-essential rooms such as storage areas, laundry rooms, and extra bedrooms
  • Turn off ventilation systems
  • Do not go outdoors until the area has been cleared by emergency officials

After Shelter-In-Place

Immediately after the Shelter-In-Place announcement is issued, fill bathtubs or large containers for an additional water supply and turn off the intake valve to the house. If gas or vapors could have entered the building, take shallow breaths through a cloth or towel. Avoid eating or drinking any food or water that may have been contaminated. Monitor the Emergency Broadcast System station for further updates and remain in shelter until authorities indicate it is safe to come out.

Assisting Accident Victims

Don't try to care for victims of a hazardous materials accident until the substance has been identified and authorities indicate it is safe to go near victims. Then you may:

  • Move victims to fresh air
  • Call for emergency medical care
  • Remove contaminated clothing and shoes and place them in a plastic bag
  • Unless instructed otherwise by authorities, cleanse victims that have come into contact with chemicals by immediately pouring cold water over the skin or eyes for at least 15 minutes

If Asked to Evacuate

Evacuation is decided based primarily on the type and amount of chemical released and how long it is expected to affect an area. Other considerations are the length of time it should take the evacuate the area, weather conditions, and time of day.

  • Stay tuned to a radio or television for information on evacuation routes, temporary shelters, and procedures
  • Follow routes recommended by 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 those with disabilities

Post HAZMAT Release Activities

  • 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