Hazardous Material Incident

A Hazardous Material (Haz-Mat) incident may be defined as a spill or airborne release of a chemical or industrial product that is hazardous to the health of a person. Spills and releases may:

  • be visible or invisible;
  • may produce an odor or not;
  • may be spread by heating and ventilation systems;
  • may react to other chemicals or processes used to clean them;
  • may quickly produce irreversible danger for persons exposed.

Additionally, haz-mat incidents may occur indoors, where the primary strategy becomes evacuating persons from the affected building, or they may occur outdoors, where the strategy becomes "closing down" a building to protect those inside.

  1. Immediately notify Public Safety at 3177.
  2. When reporting, provide the following information:
    1. Your name
    2. Name of material spilled.
    3. Estimated amount.
    4. Exact location of the spill.
    5. Report injuries.
    6. Describe actions you have taken to remediate the incident.

For incidents occurring indoors:

  1. Know the location of MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) for chemicals used or stored in your work area. Be aware that the Public Safety Office has a master set of MSDS. Consult them for useful information.
  2. Vacate the affected area immediately and if possible, seal off the area by closing doors and windows to prevent further contamination.
  3. If a building emergency exists, use the fire alarm to evacuate others. Direct people to exits most distant from the exposure.
  4. DO NOT USE ELEVATORS. DO NOT PANIC.
  5. Once outside, move to a clear area at least 500 feet from the fire building. Do not block access or operations of emergency vehicles and personnel.
  6. Do not return to an evacuated building unless authorized to do so by Public Safety.

For incidents occurring outdoors:

  1. If the source of the chemical is visible to you, look for the hazardous material placard that must be displayed on trucks, tanks, rail cars, etc. It is diamond shaped and brightly colored. Note the color and number on the placard, and report it to Public Safety at 3177.
  2. Close all exterior doors and close and lock all windows.
  3. Turn off air-conditioners, fume hoods, range hoods, air handlers and any other devices intended to circulate outside air through the building. Switch inlets to "closed" positions. Seal any caps around window type air conditioners.
  4. If gases start to bother you, hold a cold wet cloth over your nose and mouth.
  5. DO NOT EVACUATE your building unless told to do so by Public Safety or emergency officials.