MAJOR CHEMICAL EMERGENCIES
A major chemical emergency is an accident, which releases a hazardous amount of a chemical
into the environment. Accidents can happen underground, on railroad tracks or highways and at
manufacturing plants. These accidents sometimes result in a fire or explosion, but many times
you cannot see or smell anything unusual.
In the event of a major chemical emergency, authorities will notify you. To get your attention, a
siren could sound, you may be called by telephone, or emergency personnel may drive by and
give instructions over a loudspeaker. Officials may come to your door. Listen carefully to radio
or television and strictly follow instructions. You will be told the type of health hazard, the area
affected, how to protect yourself, evacuation routes (if necessary), shelter locations, type and
location of medical facilities, and the phone numbers to call if you need extra help. Do not call
the telephone company, and do not call 911, or the operator for information. Dial these
numbers only for a possible life-threatening emergency.
One of the basic instructions you may be given in a chemical emergency is to shelter-in-place.
This is a precaution aimed to keep you and your family safe while remaining in your home. If
you are told to shelter-in-place, take your children and pets indoors immediately. While
gathering your family, you can provide a minimal amount of protection to your breathing by
covering your mouth and nose with a damp cloth. Then take the following precautions...
• Close all windows in your home.
• Turn off all fans, heating and air conditioning systems.
• Closet the fireplace damper.
• Go to an above ground room (not the basement) with the fewest windows and doors.
• Take your Family Disaster Supplies Kit with you
• Wet some towels and jam them in the crack under the doors. Tape around doors,
windows, exhausts fans or vents. Use the plastic garbage bags to cover windows,
outlets and heat registers.
• If you are told there is danger o