Chemical Emergencies: Preventing and Handling Them
Chemical emergencies can happen when gasses, liquids, or solid materials that can poison people have been released. Some chemicals are very dangerous and can make you sick right away. Others are less dangerous. In general, chemicals in liquid or gas form are more dangerous than solids. Some keys to preventing and being prepared for a chemical emergency are:
1. Have an emergency supply kit ready.
2. Know which room or area is best for you to go to in an emergency and make sure everyone who uses your building knows where that area is. Often, a good choice is a room in the middle of your business, building, or home that lacks windows and is high above ground level.
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3. Take a tour of your business or home to see where chemicals are located. Check the label and take the necessary steps to ensure that you are using, storing, and disposing of each chemical according to the manufacturer’s directions. Keep products containing hazardous materials in their original containers. Never remove the labels unless the container is corroding. Repackage corroding containers and clearly labeled them. Don’t store chemicals or other hazardous products in food containers.
4. At home, store household chemicals in places where children cannot gain access them. Locked cabinets is one good choice. Products such as aerosol cans of hair spray and deodorant, nail polish and nail polish remover, toilet bowl cleaners, and furniture polishes all fall into the category of hazardous materials.
5. Never mix household hazardous chemicals or waste with other products. Incompatibles (such as chlorine bleach and ammonia) may react, ignite, or explode.
When A Chemical Emergency Happens
• Close all your doors and windows.
• If there’s a fireplace, close the damper.
• Turn off fans, air conditioners, and forced-air heating units that bring in fresh air from the outside.
• If you’re told to stay where you are, move to an inside room and bring your emergency supply kit. Check local TV and radio stations or the Internet for official news, information, and instructions.
• Consider whether you should seal the room (see below).
• If the emergency is a chemical spill inside your commercial building or home, clean it up immediately. Use rags and wear gloves and eye protection. Allow the fumes in the rags to evaporate outdoors, then dispose of the rags by wrapping them in a newspaper and placing them in a sealed plastic bag in your trash can.
• Learn to recognize the symptoms of toxic poisoning: difficulty breathing; irritation of the eyes, skin, throat, or respiratory tract; changes in skin color; headache or blurred vision; dizziness; clumsiness or lack of coordination; cramps; or diarrhea.
• Be prepared to seek medical assistance. Post the number of the emergency medical services and the poison control center by all telephones. The national poison control number is (800)-222-1222.
Sealing A Room
During a chemical, nuclear, or radiological emergency, the air outside may be dangerous. For short periods of time sealing the room can help protect you from harmful outside air. If you see large amounts of` debris in the air, or if local officials say the air is dangerous, you may want to take this kind of action.
Use duct tape and plastic sheeting to seal any doors, windows, or vents. Within two to three hours you should take down the plastic and duct tape and air out the room. You can suffocate if you keep the room tightly sealed for more than five hours.
The plastic sheeting should be 2-4 milimeters thick. Cut the plastic sheeting at least six inches wider than the openings. You may want to do this in advance to save time. Duct tape plastic at the corners first and then tape down the edges.
Please refer to our Biohazard Emergency Cleanup Tips - Until Help Arrives Guide and follow the tips to protect yourself and your property.
We’re here to help. The team at SERVPRO Bloomfield/Enfield has specialized in handling chemical emergencies. We have the training and experience to quickly clean up and restore your commercial building or property. Call SERVPRO Bloomfield/Enfield (860.216.2785) anytime, 24/7.
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