Hazardous material releases are most often due to transportation accidents or accidents at facilities. Large-scale hazardous materials incidents are less common than other types of disasters but can be dangerous and even deadly. 

The most important action you can take is to remove yourself from the affected area.

Hazardous materials can be: flammable or combustible, explosive, toxic, reactive, corrosive, or radioactive.

Key tips

  • Keep yourself safe, stay away from the affected area.
  • A good rule is to stay at least one-half mile away from the danger area.
  • Stay upwind, uphill and upstream from the release or accident site.

Sheltering in place

In some situations, you could be directed to shelter-in-place. Make sure to:

  • Bring pets inside.
  • Close and lock all exterior doors and windows.
  • Close vents and fireplace dampers.
  • Turn off heaters and air conditioners.
  • Seal gaps under doors and windows.
  • Go to an interior room with no exterior windows or door.
  • Avoid eating or drinking any food or water that could be contaminated.

Shelter safety in sealed rooms

Ten square feet of floor space per person will provide enough air for up to five hours, assuming a normal breathing rate while resting.
You should also air out the shelter after the emergency has passed.

Create your emergency kit

You should add these three things to your disaster supply kit for sheltering in place:

  • Plastic sheeting
  • Duct tape
  • Scissors