Hazardous Materials

Hazardous materials are chemical substances, which if released or misused can pose a threat to the environment or health of a community. A hazardous materials accident can occur anywhere where chemicals are used in industry, agriculture, medicine, research and consumer goods throughout Pasquotank and Camden Counties. Communities located near chemical manufacturing or storage plants are particularly at risk, however, the greatest risk in our area are from the hazardous materials being transported on our roadways daily.

 

A hazardous material spill or release can pose a risk to life, health and property. An incident can force the evacuation of a few people, a section of a facility or an entire neighborhood or community, resulting in significant economic impact and possible property damage. Spilled material can be costly to clean up and may render the area of the spill unusable for an extended period of time. While hazardous materials incidents are generally unintentional, and associated with transportation accidents or accidents at fixed facilities, hazardous materials can also be released as a criminal or terrorist act.

 

IF A HAZARDOUS MATERIALS INCIDENT OCCURS

  • Do not intervene in any way. Move away from the accident and in a direction so that wind does not carry any fumes toward you. After you are safe, call 911 and report the nature of the accident, and if there were any identifying signs of hazardous materials (spills, fumes, placards).
  • Follow the directions of emergency responders. If you are ordered to evacuate the area, do so immediately.

 

IF ASKED TO EVACUATE

Authorities will decide if evacuation is necessary based primarily on the type and amount of chemical released and how long it is expected to affect an area. Other considerations are the length of time it should take to evacuate the area, weather conditions, and the time of day. If you are told to evacuate:

  • Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance--infants, elderly people and people with disabilities.
  • Leave as soon as you can.

 

 IF ASKED TO SHELTER-IN-PLACE Follow the following instructions:

  • Bring your family and pets inside.
  • Lock doors, close windows, air vents and fireplace dampers.
  • Turn off fans, air conditioning and forced air heating systems.
  • Take your emergency supply kit unless you have reason to believe it has been contaminated.
  • Go into an interior room with few windows, if possible.
  • Seal all windows, doors and air vents with 2-4 mil. thick plastic sheeting and duct tape. Consider measuring and cutting the sheeting in advance to save time.
  • Cut the plastic sheeting several inches wider than the openings and label each sheet.
  • Duct tape plastic at corners first and then tape down all edges.
  • Be prepared to improvise and use what you have on hand to seal gaps so that you create a barrier between yourself and any contamination.
  • Local authorities may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do. Watch TV, listen to the radio or check the Internet often for official news and instructions as they become available.

 

Shelter Safety for Sealed Rooms

Ten square feet of floor space per person will provide sufficient air to prevent carbon dioxide build-up for up to five hours, assuming a normal breathing rate while resting.

However, local officials are unlikely to recommend the public shelter in a sealed room for more than 2-3 hours because the effectiveness of such sheltering diminishes with time as the contaminated outside air gradually seeps into the shelter. At this point, evacuation from the area is the better protective action to take.

Also you should ventilate the shelter when the emergency has passed to avoid breathing contaminated air still inside the shelter.