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Emergency: Chemical Spills


Hazardous materials are chemical substances, which, if released or misused, can pose a threat to the environment or health. These chemicals are used in industry, agriculture, medicine, research and consumer goods. Hazardous materials come in the form of explosives, flammable and combustible substances, poisons and radioactive materials. These substances are most often released as a result of transportation accidents or because of chemical accidents in an industrial plant.

Most victims of chemical accidents are injured at home. These incidents usually result from ignorance or carelessness in using flammable or combustible materials.

Hazardous materials in various forms can cause death, serious injury, long lasting health effects, and damage to buildings, homes and other property. Many products containing hazardous chemicals are used and stored in homes routinely. These products are also shipped daily on the nation's highways, railroads, waterways and pipelines.


A hazardous materials accident can happen anywhere and at any time. Following are suggestions and information on what you should do if one of these accidents should occur near you.

During The Incident

  • If you hear a siren or other warning signal, turn on a radio or television for further emergency information.
  • If you are asked to "shelter-in-place", seal your home or work place so contaminants cannot enter. Bring pets inside. Avoid eating or drinking any food or water that may be contaminated. Monitor the local Emergency Alert System (EAS) radio or television station (locally KSL am/fm or channel 5) for further updates and remain inside until authorities indicate it is safe to come out.
  • Authorities will decide if evacuation is necessary based primarily on the type and amount of chemical released and how long it is expected to affect an area.
  • If you are told to evacuate, stay tuned to a radio or television for information on evacuation routes, temporary shelters, and procedures.
  • Follow the routes recommended by the authorities. Shortcuts may not be safe.
  • If you have time, minimize contamination in the house by closing all windows, shutting all vents and turning off attic fans.
  • Take your disaster supplies kit.
  • Your pets will also need to evacuate. Take them with you.
  • Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance (i.e., infants, elderly people and people with disabilities).
  • Leave as soon as you can.

After the Incident

Return home only when authorities say it is safe. Follow local instructions concerning the safety of food and water. Clean up and dispose of residue carefully. Follow instructions from emergency officials concerning clean-up methods.


DO NOT drive through smoke or clouds at the scene. They may contain hazardous chemicals!

If you see an accident, call 9-1-1 to report the nature and location of the accident as soon as possible. Move away from the accident scene and help keep others away. Do not walk into or touch any of the spilled substance. Try not to inhale gases, fumes and smoke.

If possible, cover mouth with a cloth while leaving the area. Stay away from accident victims until the hazardous materials has been identified. Try to stay upstream, uphill, and upwind of the accident.

At-Home Accidents/Incidents

A very important number to use in the case of any problems or questions is the emergency telephone number found on many product labels and on transportation shipping papers. The lines are answered 24 hours per day by people who are prepared to handle pesticide emergencies involving their products.