How to Respond to a Chemical Threat



A chemical attack is the deliberate release of a toxic gas, liquid or solid that can poison people and the environment. This article describes what to notice and how to react.

Steps

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    Know the possible signs of a chemical threat. If chemical agents have been released in your vicinity, these are possible immediate and longer-term signs:
    • Many people suffering from watery eyes, twitching, choking, having trouble breathing or losing coordination.
    • Many sick or dead birds, fish or small animals are also cause for suspicion.
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    If you see signs of a chemical attack, find clean air quickly.
    • Quickly try to define the impacted area or where the chemical is coming from, if possible.
    • Take immediate action to get away.
    • If the chemical is inside a building that you are in, get out of the building without passing through the contaminated area, if possible.
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    If you can't get out of the building or find clean air without passing through the area where you see signs of a chemical attack, it may be better to move as far away as possible and shelter-in-place.
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    If you are outside, quickly decide what is the fastest way to find clean air.
    • Consider if you can get out of the area or if you should go inside the closest building and "shelter-in-place."
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    Seek help. If you think that you have been exposed to a chemical or even several chemicals, it is important to get medical assistance immediately for yourself and others affected. If your eyes are watering, your skin is stinging, and you are having trouble breathing, you may have been exposed to a chemical–quickly follow these instructions:
    • If you think you may have been exposed to a chemical, strip immediately and wash.
    • Look for a hose, fountain, or any source of water, and wash with soap if possible, being sure not to scrub the chemical into your skin.
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    • Seek emergency medical attention. Dial 911 (North America), 000 (Australia), 999 (UK), 111 (New Zealand).

Tips

  • Emergency rescuers will likely put you through a decontamination shower.
  • Be prepared to be given a "decontamination" suit, often hot and uncomfortable. Your clothes (including underwear) and personal items will be bagged and taken away for inspection, cleaning, and possible return if cleared.
  • Do not be surprised if rescuers contain you to a certain area and do not come too close to you. They are acting according to instructions for protecting both you and themselves. Listen clearly to their instructions, stay calm, and do what they request of you.

Things You'll Need

  • Telephone access.
  • Map or knowledge of building layout.

Article Info

Categories: Disaster Preparedness