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Danger From Chemicals

Chemical spills can cause damage, illness, and death to living things exposed to them. Every day, trains and trucks carry loads of hazardous chemicals, and it is inevitable that an accident will happen to some of them. While these spills are generally few and far between, they can be catastrophic to those in their direct path. Years ago, a friend was driving on a highway in New Jersey when traffic was stopped so that crews could take care of a chemical spill. Our friend observed that while the workers were dressed in complete contamination suits, he was sitting there in his tee shirt.

Chemical SpillsMajor Chemical Spills

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If you are like our friend and are in the vicinity of a chemical spill, there are steps you should take to protect yourself. To begin with, if you can get away, by driving or running, do so. Roll up your car windows immediately, and shut off the air vents. Some spills manifest themselves as plumes or clouds, as a volatile liquid mixes with the air. Cover your mouth and nose with a moistened handkerchief or any fabric. Having a gas mask is best. Do not enter the cloud. If you have become contaminated by aerosol or liquid chemicals remove your clothing and change into fresh garments, it is better to wrap a sheet around yourself rather than continue wearing polluted clothing. Rescue and emergency workers will soon be on hand, and you should follow their directions as regards decontamination and medical care. Should the spill happen near your home, get inside quickly and close all windows and doors. Emergency workers will tell you if you must evacuate, but until they do, stay inside.

Spills In The Home

While we tend to worry most about spills of hazardous chemicals outside the home, everyone’s house contains its own little time bomb. If you take a peek in your basement or even under the kitchen sink, you will see that there are quite a few dangerous chemicals. Some of these can be especially hazardous if they combine, such as bleach and ammonia – this actually makes nerve gas. Should there be a spill of household chemicals in the wake of a disaster, leave your home quickly. Open windows if you can do so safely. In most cases, it will be possible to enter once the volatile fluids have evaporated, but do so wearing protective mask, gloves, and footwear.

You Have Five Senses, Use Them! 137 First Aid Kit

The basic senses with which nature has endowed you are your best friends for detecting chemical hazards. Your first indication may be smell when you detect an unfamiliar and sharp odor. Bear in mind, however, that some chemicals actually have a sweet odor, so any smell with which you are not familiar should be viewed skeptically. You may also see a cloud of aerosol chemicals or fluid on the ground. If you touch something and feel a burning sensation, it is probably something harmful. Sometimes chemical spills will announce themselves with an explosion, so be alert to sounds. Likewise, a bitter, acidic, or nauseous taste is an indication that conditions are not normal.