are found everywhere. They purify drinking
water, increase crop production, and simplify
household chores. But chemicals also can
be hazardous to humans or the environment
if used or released improperly. Hazards
can occur during production, storage, transportation,
use, or disposal. You and your community
are at risk if a chemical is used unsafely
or released in harmful amounts into the
environment where you live, work, or play.
Chemical manufacturers are one source of
hazardous materials, but there are many
others, including service stations, hospitals,
and hazardous materials waste sites.
a Hazardous Materials Incident
Many communities have
Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs)
whose responsibilities include collecting
information about hazardous materials in
community and making this information available
to the public upon request. The
LEPCs also are tasked with developing an
emergency plan to prepare for and respond
to chemical emergencies in the community.
Ways the public will be notified
and actions the public must take in the
event of a release are part of the plan.
the LEPCs to find out more about chemical
hazards and what needs to be done
to minimize the risk to individuals and
the community from these materials. The
local emergency management office can provide
contact information on the LEPCs.
You should add the following supplies to
your disaster supplies kit:
- Plastic sheeting
- Duct tape
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.
you are Asked to evacuate:
Do so immediately
Stay upstream, uphill, and upwind! In general,
try to go at least one-half mile (usually
8-10 city blocks) from the danger area.
Do not walk into or touch any spilled liquids,
airborne mists, or condensed solid chemical
In a motor vehicle
Stop and seek shelter in a permanent building.
If you must remain in your car, keep car
windows and vents closed and shut off the
air conditioner and heater.
Requested to stay indoors
- Close and lock all exterior
doors and windows. Close vents, fireplace
dampers, and as many interior doors as
- Turn off air conditioners and ventilation
systems. In large buildings, set ventilation
systems to 100 percent recirculation
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 the room by covering each window,
door, and vent using plastic sheeting
and duct tape.
- Use material to fill cracks and holes
in the room, such as those around pipes.
Shelter Safety for Sealed Rooms
Ten square feet of floor space per person
will provide sufficient air to
prevent carbon dioxide build-up for up
to five hours, assuming a normal
breathing rate while resting.
However, local officials are unlikely to
recommend the public shelter in a sealed
room for more than 2-3 hours because the
effectiveness of such sheltering diminishes
with time as the contaminated outside air
gradually seeps into the shelter. At this
point, evacuation from the area is the
better protective action to take.
Also you should ventilate the shelter when
the emergency has passed to avoid breathing
contaminated air still inside the shelter.
After a Hazardous Materials Incident
The following are guidelines for the period
following a hazardous materials incident:
- Return home only when authorities
say it is safe. Open windows and vents
and turn on fans to provide ventilation.
- Act quickly if you have come in to
contact with or have been exposed
to hazardous chemicals. Do the following:
- 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 fi nd out about proper disposal.
- Advise everyone who comes in
to contact with you that you may
have been exposed to a toxic substance.
out from local authorities how
to clean up your land and property.
any lingering vapors or other
hazards to your local emergency