There are many organizations that help the community in an emergency, such as police, fire, and sheriff departments, the American Red Cross, and government agencies. All of these groups coordinate their activities through the local office of emergency management. In many areas there are local Hazardous Materials (Haz-Mat) Teams, who are trained to respond to chemical accidents.
If an accident involving hazardous materials occurs, you will be notified by the authorities as to what steps to take. You may hear a siren, be called by telephone, or emergency personnel may drive by and give instructions over a loudspeaker. Officials could even come to your door. If you hear a warning signal, you should go indoors and listen to a local Emergency Alert System (EAS) station for emergency instructions from county or state officials.
Important Points to Remember
- In the event of an emergency, follow the instructions of the authorities carefully. They know best how to protect you and your family. Listen to your emergency broadcast stations on radio and TV.
- Use your phone only in life-threatening emergencies, and then call the Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222), Emergency Medical Services (EMS), 9-1-1, or the operator immediately.
- If you are told to "shelter in place", go inside, close all windows and vents and turn off all fans, heating or cooling systems. Take family members and pets to a safe room, seal windows and doors, and listen to emergency broadcast stations for instructions.
- If you are told to evacuate immediately, follow your Family Disaster Plan. Take your Family Disaster Supplies Kit. Pack only the bare essentials, such as medications, and leave your home quickly. Follow the traffic route authorities recommend. Don't take short cuts on the way to the shelter.
- If you find someone who appears to have been injured from chemical exposure, make sure you are not in danger before administering First Aid.
- And lastly, remember, the best way to protect yourself and your family is to be prepared.
In Case of Poisoning
The most common home chemical emergencies involve small children eating medicines. Keep all medicines, cosmetics, cleaning products, and other household chemicals out of sight and out of reach of children. Experts in the field of chemical manufacturing suggest that doing so could eliminate up to 75 percent of all poisoning of small children.
If someone in your home does eat or drink a non-food substance, find the container it came out of immediately and take it with you to the phone. Call the Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222), or Emergency Medical Services (EMS), or 9-1-1, or call the operator and tell them exactly what your child ingested.
Follow their instructions carefully. Please be aware that the First Aid advice found on the container may not be appropriate. So, do not give anything by mouth until you have been advised by medical professionals.