Why Prepare?

Basic Preparedness
Getting Informed
Planning and Checklists
Special Needs
Disaster Supplies Kit

Natural Hazards
Thunderstorms and lightning
Winter storms and extreme cold
Extreme heat
Landslides and debris flow

Technological Hazards
Hazardous materials incidents
Household chemical emergencies
Nuclear power plant emergencies

Biological threats
Chemical threats
Nuclear blasts
Radiological dispersion device events

Recovering from Disaster
Health and safety guidelines
Returning home
Seeking disaster assistance
Coping with disaster
Helping others

Hazardous Materials
Chemicals are found everywhere. They purify drinking water, increase crop production and simplify household chores. But chemicals can be hazardous to humans or environment if used improperly. Hazards can occur during production, storage, transportation, use or disposal.
Chemical manufacturers are one source of hazardous materials, other sources include service stations, hospitals and hazardous materials waste sites.

Take Protective Measures
What can I do Before a Hazardous Materials Incident?

Many communities have Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs) whose responsibilities include collecting information about hazardous materials in the 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. Contact 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.
You should add the following supplies to your disaster kit:
Plastic sheeting

Duct tape


What do I do During a Hazardous Materials Incident?

Listen to local radio or television stations for detailed information and instructions. Follow the instructions carefully. Some toxic chemicals are odorless, so stay away from the site of an occurrence.

If you are:

Told to evacuateDo so immediately

Caught Outside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 deposits

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 interior doors. 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 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

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 best defensive action to take.
Also you should ventilate the shelter when the emergency has passed to avoid breathing contaminated air that may still be inside the shelter.

What do I do After 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 been exposed to hazardous chemicals

Follow decontamination instructions from local authorities

You may be advised to take a thorough shower or follow another procedure altogether

Seek medical treatment for unusual symptoms as soon as possible

Place exposed clothing and shoes in tightly sealed containers

Advise everyone who comes in to contact with you that you may have been exposed to a toxic substance

Find out from local authorities how to clean up your land and property

Report any lingering vapors or other hazards to your local emergency services office
Follow the instructions for recovering from a disaster.