Hazardous materials are chemicals or substances which can be harmful to human health and the environment. Usually they are transported or used in complete safety. Occasionally, however, there are accidents. Many of these chemicals are found in small amounts in every home. People have come to trust these materials, and may not realize that they are potential killers (The Disaster Handbook 1998 – National Edition-Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences University of Florida).
“Many of these chemicals are found in small amounts in every home.”
All of these substances could be dangerous, although some (such as baking soda) would have to be mixed with others (ammonia, for example) to cause a health risk.
“Should a potentially threatening release occur, safety agencies will inform the public through the media.”
Read all directions carefully and follow them. Store substances safely, away from children. Pay attention to first aid directions. Don’t mix chemicals. Keep the number of your local poison control center handy.
Significant releases of hazardous materials are rare, but can happen. Storage and manufacturing facilities, utility plants, commercial businesses and farms may all use materials that are very dangerous if released.
Should a potentially threatening release occur, safety agencies will inform the public through the media. Follow instructions carefully.
There may be little time to react. Some materials are so deadly that a single exposure to a few drops or a single breath of fumes is fatal. Don’t take chances. If instructed to evacuate, do so quickly and follow instructions of public safety officials. If directed to stay inside, close all windows and doors and turn off air conditioners; if necessary, seal around doors and windows with towels or blankets. Do not go outside or open doors or windows until told it is safe to do so.
It is possible that a transportation accident could be a radioactive health risk, but the chances are very small. Some low-level radioactive waste products used in medical facilities are routinely carried over highways all over the world. Hazardous materials are heavily overpacked, and quantities are carefully limited. All are to be clearly marked RADIOACTIVE with black markings on a yellow or white background. Move away from any such package released in an accident, and be sure emergency responders know of its presence. Do not attempt to move it. Leave recovery of the package to the experts.