If there were a chemical emergency near your home, would you know what to do? The following information will help you be better prepared.
In the event of a chemical emergency that threatens your area, you will be notified of the incident in at least one of the following ways:
- A call through an emergency telephone notification system. You will receive a recorded message that will give you some instructions on what to do.
- A law enforcement officer or fire truck using a public address system to warn you of the danger and provide instruction of what to do.
- A law enforcement officer or firefighter going door- to-door to notify residents of the danger and provide some instructions on what to do.
- Through the Emergency Alert System, formerly called the Emergency Broadcast System.
Depending on the situation, it may be necessary for you to evacuate during a chemical emergency. In many cases however, you may be requested to “shelter in place.”
Sheltering in Place
Whether you are at home, work or elsewhere, there may be situations when it’s best to stay where you are and avoid any uncertainty outside. There are other circumstances when staying put and creating a barrier between yourself and potentially contaminated air outside, a process known as “sheltering in place,” is a matter of survival. Use available information to assess the situation. If you see large amounts of debris in the air, or if local authorities say the air is badly contaminated, you may want to take this kind of action. If you are told to shelter in place, take your children and pets indoors immediately and:
Close and lock all windows and exterior doors.
If you are told there is danger of explosion, close the window shades, blinds or curtains.
Turn off all fans, heating and air conditioning systems.
Close the fireplace damper.
Get your disaster supply kit. Make sure the radio is working.
Go to an interior room without windows that’s above ground level. In the case of a chemical threat, an above-ground location is preferable because some chemicals are heavier than air, and may seep into basements even if the windows are closed.
Bring your pets with you, and be sure to bring additional food and water supplies for them.
It is ideal to have a hard-wired telephone in the room you select. Call your emergency contact and have the phone available if you need to report a life-threatening condition. Cellular telephone equipment may be overwhelmed or damaged during an emergency.
Use duct tape and plastic sheeting (heavier than food wrap) to seal all cracks around the door and vents into the room.
Keep listening to your radio or television until you are told all is safe or you are told to evacuate. Local officials may call for evacuation in specific areas at greatest risk in your community.