Disaster Supplies Kit
Thunderstorms and lightning
Winter storms and extreme cold
Landslides and debris flow
Hazardous materials incidents
Household chemical emergencies
Nuclear power plant emergencies
Radiological dispersion device events
Recovering from Disaster
Health and safety guidelines
Seeking disaster assistance
Coping with disaster
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:
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 evacuateDo so immediately
Caught OutsideStay 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 vehicleStop 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 indoorsClose 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
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
Place exposed clothing and shoes in tightly sealed
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
Report any lingering vapors or other hazards to your local
emergency services office
Follow the instructions for recovering from a disaster.