Hazardous Materials

A hazardous materials incident can occur anywhere. Communities located near manufacturing plants and industrial areas are at risk. Transport of these materials on major roadways and railroads also pose a risk to the areas surrounding them.

It is important to recognize the presence of hazardous materials. Although many materials are odorless and tasteless, they can cause immediate physical effects and reactions, such as watering eyes or nausea. Some hazardous materials can be recognized by an oil or foam-like appearance on the ground.

At the Scene of an Accident
  • Call 9-1-1 or the local fire department
  • Move away from the accident scene and keep others away
  • Do not walk into or touch any of the spilled substance
  • Do not inhale gases, fumes, or smoke if possible
  • Cover mouth with a cloth while leaving the area
  • Stay away from accident victims until the hazardous material has been identified
  • Stay uphill, upstream, and upwind of the accident

Shelter in Place

  • Go inside if you are outdoors
  • Protect yourself inside your house or other building
  • Close all windows; outdoors, tape cracks for extra protection
  • Turn off the air conditioner, ventilation fans, furnace and other air intakes; close all vents on cooling, heating, or ventilation systems
  • Use the above systems for internal air re-circulation only
  • Move to the central interior area of the building
  • Stay inside until the local radio or tv stations inform you that the emergency is over


  • Immediately move to a location designated by public officials when so directed
  • Gather what you and your family will need
  • Take only essential items, especially medication
  • Do not go to your child's school; school officials will take special care of your children
  • Leave a sign on your door saying the house has been evacuated
  • Go to the designated safe area as directed by officials
  • Keep car windows and vents closed

Protect Your Breathing

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a damp cloth
  • Take frequent, shallow breath
  • Stay calm - do not panic