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Office of Emergency Management
Hazardous Materials

Hazardous materials come in the form of explosives, flammable and combustible substances, poisons and radioactive materials. 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.

During a Hazardous Materials Incident

Listen to local radio or television stations for detailed information and follow instructions carefully. Remember that some toxic chemicals are odorless.

If you are asked to evacuate:

  • Do so immediately.

  • Stay tuned to a radio or television for information on evacuation routes, temporary shelters, and procedures.

  • If you have time, minimize contamination in the house by closing all windows, shutting all vents, and turning off attic fans.

  • Take pre-assembled disaster supplies.

  • Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance--infants, elderly people and people with access and functional needs.

If you are 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. Try not to inhale gases, fumes and smoke. If possible, cover mouth with a cloth or mask while leaving the area.

  • Stay away from accident victims until the hazardous material has been identified.

If you are 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.

If you are requested to stay indoors:

  • Bring pets inside.

  • Close and lock all exterior doors and windows. Close vents, fireplace dampers, and as many interior doors as possible.

  • Turn off air conditioners and ventilation systems, or set ventilation systems to 100 percent recirculation so that no outside air is drawn into the building.

  • If gas or vapors could have entered the building, take shallow breaths through a cloth or a towel.

  • Avoid eating or drinking any food or water that may be contaminated.

  • Go into your pre-selected shelter room.

  • Seal gaps under and around the following areas with wet towels, plastic sheeting, duct tape, wax paper or aluminum foil:

    • Doorways and windows

    • Air conditioning units

    • Bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans

    • Stove and dryer vents with duct tape and plastic sheeting

For more information go to: https://www.ready.gov/hazardous-materials-incidents

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