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

Household Chemical Emergencies
Checking Your Home
There are probably many hazardous materials throughout your home. Take a tour of your home to see where these materials are located. Once you have located a product, check the label and take the necessary steps to ensure that you are using, storing and disposing of the material according to the manufacturer’s directions. It is critical to store household chemicals in places where children cannot access them.
Remember that products such as aerosol cans of hair spray and deodorant, nail polish and remover, toilet bowl cleaners and furniture polishes all fall into the category of hazardous materials.

Cleaning Products
Oven cleaners
Drain cleaners
Wood cleaner and polish
Metal cleaner and polish
Toilet cleaners
Tub, tile, shower cleaners
Bleach (laundry)
Pool chemicals

Indoor Pesticides
Ant sprays and baits
Cockroach sprays and baits
Flea repellents and shampoo
Bug sprays
Houseplant insecticides
Moth repellents
Mouse and rat poisons and baits

Workshop/Painting Supplies
Adhesives and glues
Furniture strippers
Oil- or enamel-based paint
Stains and finishes
Paint thinners and turpentine
Paint strippers and removers
Photographic chemicals
Fixatives and other solvents

Lawn and Garden Products
Fungicides/wood preservatives

Automotive Products
Motor oil
Fuel additives
Carburetor and fuel injection cleaners
Air conditioning refrigerants
Starter fluids
Automotive batteries
Transmission and brake fluid

Other Flammable Products
Propane tanks and all compressed gas cylinders
Home heating oil
Diesel fuel
Gas/oil mix
Lighter fluid

Mercury thermostats or thermometers
Fluorescent light bulbs
Driveway sealer
Although the risk of a chemical accident is slight, knowing how to handle these products and how to react during an emergency can reduce the risk of injury.

Take Protective Measures
What can I do Before a Household Chemical Emergency?

Buy only as much of a chemical as you will use to prevent leftovers

Keep products containing hazardous materials in their original containers and never remove the labels unless the container is corroding

Corroding containers should be repackaged and clearly labeled

Never store hazardous products in food containers

Never mix household hazardous chemicals or waste with other products

Incompatibles, such as chlorine bleach and ammonia, may react, ignite or explode
Take the following precautions to prevent and respond to accidents:
Follow the manufacturer’s instructors for the proper use of the household chemical

Never smoke while using household chemicals

Never use hair spray, cleaning solutions, paint products or pesticides near an open flame

Clean up any chemical spill immediately

Use rags to clean up the spill.

Wear gloves and eye protection

Allow the rags to evaporate outdoors

Dispose of the rags by wrapping them in a newspaper and placing them in a sealed plastic bag in your trash can

Dispose of hazardous materials correctly
Learn to recognize the symptoms of toxic poisoning:
Difficulty breathing

Irritation of the eyes, skin, throat or respiratory tract

Changes in skin color

Headache or blurred vision


Clumsiness or lack of coordination

Cramps or diarrhea
Be prepared to seek medical assistance
Post the number of the emergency medical services and the poison control center by all telephones. In an emergency situation, you may not have time to look up critical phone numbers. The national poison control number is (800) 222-1222.

What do I do During a Household Chemical Emergency?

If there is a danger of fire or explosion:

Get out of the residence immediately

Stay upwind and away from the residence to avoid breathing toxic fumes
If someone has been exposed to a household chemical:
Find any containers of the substance that are readily available in order to provide requested information

Call emergency medical services

Follow the emergency operator’s first aid instructions carefully

Discard clothing that may have been contaminated