Eddy County Emergency Management

HAZARDOUS MATERIALS

THERE ARE MANY TYPES OF HAZARDOUS MATERIALS, BUT WE WILL CONCENTRATE ON THREE: CHEMICAL, BIOLOGICAL AND NUCLEAR/RADIATION

CHEMICAL SPILL OR LEAK

  • If there is a chemical spill or leak in your area, you may be instructed to evacuate.  TAKE YOUR GO BAG AND ANY PETS YOU HAVE and leave immediately.  If you are not told to evacuate, close all doors and windows and keep everyone inside the house.

CHEMICAL ATTACK

Possible signs of a chemical attack

  • People suffering with watery eyes, loss of coordination, choking, twitching and having trouble breathing.
  • Lots of sick or dead birds, fish or other small animals is cause for concern.

If you or others experience symptoms such as these or suspect there has been a chemical attack:

  • If the chemical is inside the building where you are, try to get out and do everything not to go through the contaminated area.  If you would have to go through the contaminated area to get out, it may be best to get as far away as possible and shelter in place.
  • If you are outside, get out of the area to clean air, as quickly as possible.  You may need to go inside the closest building and shelter in place.
  • If you have been exposed to a chemical, take your clothes off and wash your entire body, using any source of water, with soap preferably. Do not scrub the chemical into your skin. 
  • Get medical attention, immediately. 

BIOLOGICAL ATTACK

A biological attack is the deliberate release of germs or other biological substances that can make you sick.  These agents can be inhaled, eaten or enter through a cut in the skin.  If a biological attack occurs, you will probably learn of it through radio and TV or through local officials.

If a biological attack has been announced you should find out:

  • Are you in the group or area authorities consider in danger?
  • What are authorities saying the signs and symptoms are?
  • Are any vaccinations or medications being distributed?  Where and who should get them?
  • Should you seek medical care if you become sick?

You will most likely be able to have these questions answered by watching TV, listening to the radio or checking the Internet.

If you have potentially been exposed:

  • Follow all instructions from public health officials.
  • If the disease is contagious, you will probably be advised to stay away from others and you may be quarantined. 

If you think there is a suspicious or unusual substance:

  • Get away quickly.
  • Cover you mouth and nose with layers of fabric (clothing or jackets in as many layers that will still allow you to breathe).
  • Call 911
  • Wash yourself with soap and water.
  • Stay informed: Listen to the radio or TV or check the Internet.  There may be information on signs and symptoms, if vaccines or medications are being distributed and where to go if you become sick.

NUCLEAR THREAT/EMERGENCY

During any type of nuclear incident (spill, leak,  blast), do everything you can to avoid the radioactive material.

If you have advance warning of an attack:

  • TAKE COVER IMMEDIATELY, below ground if possible.  Take your Go Bag/Emergency Kit.  Any shield or shelter is better than nothing (an interior room with no windows is best). 

If there is no warning:

  • Stay calm and assess the situation.
  • Decide if you can safely get out of the area or if it would be better to go inside a building and shelter in place to limit the amount of radiation you are exposed to.
  • Again, it is best to go to an underground shelter, but if that is not possible, Shelter in Place.  Close all doors and windows, turn off air conditioners, heaters and any other ventilation systems.
  • Listen to the radio, watch TV or check the Internet for updated information.
  • Limit the amount of radiation you are exposed to by thinking SHIELDING, DISTANCE and TIME:
    1. Shielding - If you can get a thick shield between you and the radiation/radioactive materials, more radiation will be absorbed by the shield and the less you will be exposed to.
    2. Distance - The farther away from the blast and fallout, the less your exposure.
    3. Time - Minimize the time you are exposed to the radiation.