Hazardous Materials Incidents

Hazardous materials come in the form of explosives, flammable and combustible substances, poisons and radioactive materials. Hazards can occur during production, storage, transportation, use or disposal. You and your community are at risk if a chemical is used unsafely or released in harmful amounts into the environment where you live, work or play.


Before a Hazardous Materials Incident

Many communities have Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs) whose responsibilities include collecting information about hazardous materials in the community and planning made available to the public upon request. Contact your local emergency management office for more information on LEPCs.

The following are things you can do to protect yourself, your family and your property from the effects of a hazardous materials incident:
  • Build an Emergency Supply Kit with the addition of plastic sheeting and duct tape
  • Make a Family Emergency Plan
  • Know how to operate your home’s ventilation system
  • Identify an above-ground shelter room with as few openings as possible.
  • Read more about Sheltering in Place
During a Hazardous Materials Incident



 After a Hazardous Materials Incident

The following are guidelines for the period following a hazardous materials incident:
  • Listen to local radio or television stations for the latest emergency information.
  • Go to a designated public shelter if you have been told to evacuate or you feel it is unsafe to remain in your home. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345).
  • Act quickly if you have come in to contact with or have been exposed to hazardous chemicals.
  • Follow decontamination instructions from local authorities.
  • Seek medical treatment for unusual symptoms as soon as possible.
  • Place exposed clothing and shoes in tightly sealed containers.
  • Advise everyone who comes in to contact with you that you may have been exposed to a toxic substance.
  • Return home only when authorities say it is safe. Open windows and vents and turn on fans to provide ventilation.
  • Find out from local authorities how to clean up your land and property.
  • Report any lingering vapors or other hazards to your local emergency services office.