Hazardous Materials Incidents

Preparing for a potential hazmat incident


  • Know the warning and notification methods that will be used should a hazardous materials incident occur.
  • Carefully read all labels on all household cleaning agents, chemicals and pesticides. Pay close attention to the manufacturer's directions on proper and improper use of the product.
  • Have the recommended emergency supplies (PDF) on hand.
  • Make sure all family members how to respond during and after a hazardous materials emergency.
  • Find out the correct ways to shelter safely in your home/business.
  • Learn the emergency plans for schools and day care centers within your area. Find out how your children will be protected if there is a hazardous materials emergency of any type.
  • Develop the best evacuation route from your home in the event of an emergency. Make sure that you have more than one choice because chemical releases will be affected by wind direction.

During a hazmat incident


  • Call 911 immediately if you witness a hazardous materials release, accident, spill or leak.
  • If you hear a warning tone coming from an emergency siren, tune to local radio and television stations. Follow all instructions issued by county officials.
  • If you are advised to stay where you are, remain indoors and follow sheltering instructions.
  • If you suspect that gas or vapors have entered the building, take shallow breaths through a cloth or towel.
  • Remain in protected, interior areas of the building where vapors are reduced and take your portable, battery-operated radio with you. Continue to listen for further instructions.
  • If county officials tell you to evacuate, do so immediately. Close and lock home doors and windows.

If you are outdoors


  • Try to stay upstream, uphill and upwind of any incident - hazardous materials can quickly be transported by water and wind.
  • If you are in a motor vehicle, close off ventilation and shut your windows.
  • Avoid contact with any spilled liquid materials, airborne mist or condensed solid or liquid chemical deposit. Keep your body fully covered and wear gloves, socks, and shoes.

If you are boating


  • Stay upstream and upwind of any incident - hazardous materials can quickly be transported by water and wind
  • If you see a hazardous materials incident, oil spill or leak, call 911 immediately.
  • Obtain as much information as possible (e.g. location, materials involved spiller) without putting yourself at risk.
  • Avoid contact with any spilled liquid materials, airborne mist or condensed solid or liquid chemical deposit. Keep your body fully covered and wear gloves, socks and shoes.

After a hazmat incident


  • Continue to monitor local radio and television stations for emergency instructions.
  • Do not return home or reenter the area until authorities say it is safe.
  • Upon returning home, open windows, vents and turn on fans to provide ventilation.
  • Throw away any uncovered or exposed food.
  • Following an emergency, county officials will identify the types and levels of contamination, if any.
  • A person or item that has been near a hazardous chemical incident may be contaminated and could contaminate other people or items. If you have been in contact with, or been exposed to hazardous chemicals, follow decontamination instructions from county officials.
  • If you suffer any symptoms of exposure, dial 911 to obtain decontamination instructions and medical help.
  • County officials will provide detailed instructions on cleaning up land and property.
  • Report any lingering vapors or other hazards to 911.