Toxic/Chemical Events

Steps to Take in a Toxic/Chemical Event

Dangerous amounts of chemicals can be released into the environment from industrial accidents, or on purpose, as happened in Japan when nerve gas was released in the subway system. These events can cause fires or explosions, and can be very poisonous to people and animals.
  • If you receive any threat about a toxic spill or release, or see strange activity that you believe may be part of a chemical event, call 911 right away!
  • If you live or work near the scene of a chemical event that is not in your building, stay where you are, listen for emergency updates, and wait for instructions from emergency workers or police before leaving the area.
  • If you are right at the scene of a chemical event, get yourself and others far away from the spill or leak, and then call 911. Wait in a safe place nearby for emergency workers to arrive. Watch for signs of toxic poisoning (e.g., trouble breathing; dizziness; irritated eyes, skin, or throat; stomach cramps or diarrhea) and report these right away to emergency workers.
  • Try to avoid breathing in fumes or smoke by covering your mouth with your hand or a cloth. Never touch, taste, sniff or put your eyes near any real or suspected chemical substance.
  • Pour cold water over yourself or others if you come in contact with chemicals, and remove any contaminated clothing. If you don't have water, brush chemicals off of skin with a glove, plastic bag, or cloth.
  • If you are outside, try to stay upstream, uphill, and upwind of the accident.
  • If you are told by local officials to "shelter in place" (i.e., remain in your home or office), turn off all heating and air conditioning systems, get your emergency kit, and go to an interior room (preferably without windows). Use duct tape and/or towels to seal all cracks around the door and any vents into the room, and keep listening to your radio or television until you are told all is safe or that you should evacuate.