Hazardous Materials

If you suspect a hazardous material emergency

Call 911 to report the incident. Stay indoors unless instructed otherwise. Listen carefully to radio or television emergency alert stations (EAS), and strictly follow instructions. You will be told:

  • The type of health hazard
  • The area affected
  • How to protect yourself
  • Evacuation routes (if necessary)
  • Shelter locations
  • Type and location of medical facilities
  • And the phone numbers to call if you need extra help.

Shelter in Place

One of the basic instructions you may be given in a hazardous material emergency is to "shelter in place". This is a precaution aimed to keep you and your family safe while remaining in your home. If you are told to shelter in place, take your children and pets indoors immediately.

While gathering your family, you can provide a minimal amount of protection to your breathing by covering your mouth and nose with a damp cloth.

  • Close all windows in your home.
  • Turn off all fans, heating and air conditioning systems
  • Close the fireplace damper
  • Go to an above-ground room (not the basement) with the fewest windows and doors
  • Take your Family Disaster Supplies Kit with you.
  • Wet some towels and jam them in the crack under the doors
  • Tape around doors, windows, exhaust fans or vents. Use the plastic garbage bags to cover windows, outlets, and heat registers
  • If you are told there is danger of explosion, close the window shades, blinds, or curtains. To avoid injury, stay away from the windows
  • Stay in the room and listen to your radio until you are told all is safe or you are told to evacuate


Authorities may decide to evacuate an area for your protection. Again, it is important to stay calm, listen carefully, and follow all instructions.

If you are told to evacuate, listen to your radio to make sure the evacuation order applies to you and to understand if you are to evacuate immediately or if you have time to pack some essentials.

If you are told to evacuate immediately:

  • Take your Disaster Supplies Kit and medications.
  • Close and lock your windows
  • Shut off all vents
  • Lock the door
  • Move quickly and calmly

For more information on hazardous materials in your neighborhood, click here.