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Chemical Events - Accidents or Attacks


A Chemical spill, an accidental release of toxic gas, or a terrorist attack is survivable if YOU follow some basic procedures.

Keep in mind that most chemical agents are exceedingly swift and that no government organization will be able to respond in time to prevent the damage.

They'll only be in time to help the survivors and to do clean up. Therefore, it is up to you to do the things that will help you survive.

How to recognize a “possible” chemical danger:

1) You see people running down the street, choking, falling, and convulsing.

2) You are walking through a neighborhood and you smell something odd and there are no human or animal sounds, including birds or insect sounds.

3) You enter a neighborhood and you see dead birds or animals, and even more importantly, dead insects.

4) You can see a cloud of something moving down the street or a cloud of something spewing from an overturned tanker.


Do NOT go into a basement or subway.

Do NOT run toward the panicked people.

Do NOT try to help or give mouth-to-mouth or even touch any affected people.

Do NOT take the time to call any emergency number.

Do NOT take the time try to convince anyone of the possible danger.
  If its a true chemical attack in your area and if you do any of the “Do NOTs,” you'll die.

Remember, chemical events in a city several miles away will NOT affect you--chemically.

DO—as quickly as possible:

1) If you are in the open, cover your mouth with anything and run away from the danger.

2) Run into a building and run up the stairwell as high as you can get, then go into a room and shut the door. Make sure the windows are shut and if you are able, lock the door.

If there is air conditioning disable it! Put anything over the vent. A wet towel or a wet shirt will help.

3) Remember, the same rules for any sheltering in place apply to a chemical event. However, speed is of the essence. See Shelter In Place

4) If you think your clothing in contaminated, strip and put the clothing out of your shelter.

5) If you think that a chemical is on your skin, strip and shower immediately.

6) In a chemical event, a vehicle is only a temporary solution because it is not airtight.


If you are sheltering in place and in your safe room, you must refresh your air supply every 2 to 3 hours; otherwise you could suffocate.

The door to your inner room may be opened for a few minutes so fresh air will enter. When doing this, wear your scarf or mask. Make sure that you have no open food or exposed dishes.

If there is a shower in the room with you, you should turn it on before the door is opened and leave it on until the door is closed. This provides a moisture shield which will help keep chemicals, biological or radioactive contaminates at a minimum.

Copyright 2004 Medical Corps