Hazardous Material Release
Hazardous materials are chemicals that are harmful to humans and to the environment. Accidents with hazardous materials may cause us to take action to protect ourselves.
People may be exposed to a hazardous material when there is a fire or an accidental spill. A powder may be blown by the wind or carried through the community on vehicle tires. Smoke and heat from a fire can carry hazardous materials. A spill on the ground can evaporate and enter the air. A chemical, such as ammonia or chlorine, may also be released as a gas and mix with the air. Once a hazardous material is in the air we may breathe it.
The hazardous materials may be seen as a cloud or it may not be seen at all. Sometimes we may be able to smell or taste a hazardous material to warn us of its presence. But this is not always the case and it is not the same for everybody. The effect that a hazardous material may have on our bodies depends on its nature, strength, and the length of time that we are exposed. Always be very careful around any chemical accident or chemical spill or fire.
Accidents can force an evacuation from your home and the surrounding area. Fumes from fire or chemical releases can create problems over a large area. Such accidents are likely to occur in industrial parks, along highways, or along railways. Hazardous materials accidents can be very dangerous because of the possibility of dealing with unknown chemicals.
An important thing to remember is that you do not want to get any of the hazardous material on you. If it is in the air or on your skin it may be able to enter your body and cause you harm. Take action to protect yourself. Do not visit the accident site. If citizens are required to take action, you will be given instructions about what to do. Follow these instructions. Listen to the radio or TV for updated information.
Review the shelter-in-place and evacuation information in the guide.
Things to do if you see, hear or smell a hazardous material release:
• Phone 911.
• Stay upwind of the area.
• If you are in a vehicle, leave the accident area and move upwind.
• Shelter-in-place until told to evacuate. See “Shelter-in-place” and “Evacuation”.
What to do during a hazardous material release:
• Do not go to see what is happening. DO NOT take chances. Many chemicals cannot be seen or smelled, but they can be deadly.
• Follow instructions provided by emergency response personnel.
• Be prepared to shelter-in-place or evacuate.
What to do if you see or know of a chemical spill and you are in your car:
• If you know it is flammable – leave the area now; go upwind!
• When safe: phone 911 and report what you know.
• If possible, leave the area and avoid visible clouds.
• Let emergency responders get there quickly: Stay away from the area and all roads in or out.
• If you cannot drive away, leave your car and go to a building and shelter-in-place.
• If you cannot leave your car, shelter-in-place in your car. See “shelter-in-place” for more information on sheltering-in-place in your vehicle.