Whether at home or work, there is a chance you could be impacted by a hazardous materials incident (such as a chemical spill, train derailment, or industrial explosion). It is important that you think ahead and know what to do to ensure safety. If you are at work, chances are your employer will have a detailed emergency action plan and information for you to follow. But, if you are not at work – or even if you are, the more you know, the better – it is vital you are educated on what to do in such an emergency. 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. Your local emergency management office can provide contact information on the LEPCs.

You should add the following supplies to your disaster kit:

During an incident:

Listen to local radio or television stations for detailed information and instructions.

Follow the instructions carefully. You should stay away from the area to minimize the risk of contamination. Remember that some toxic chemicals are odorless. If you are asked to evacuate:

If you are caught outside:

Do the following after being exposed to hazardous chemicals:

Follow decontamination instructions from local authorities. You may be advised to take a thorough shower, or you may be advised to stay away from water and follow another procedure. Seek medical treatment for unusual symptoms as soon as possible. Place exposed clothing and shoes in tightly sealed containers. Do not allow them to contact other materials. Call local authorities to find out about proper disposal. Advise everyone who comes in 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.

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