What Should I Do During a Chemical Release Emergency?


Local officials may recommend the following appropriate protective actions during a chemical emergency.  Students, faculty, and staff should "Shelter In Place" until the chemical release is stopped and winds have dissipated any vapors.

Here's how to “Shelter In Place":

  • Go Inside Immediately.
  • Close All Doors, Windows, And Other Sources Of Outside Air. Facilities Management personnel will turn off air conditioning or heating systems in buildings controlled by EMS (Energy Management Systems) to keep chemical vapors from entering. Buildings not controlled by EMS will have to be manually shut down to keep chemical vapors from entering.  Gather a portable radio.
  • Move Into An Interior Room, Preferably A Room With No Windows, Such As A Hallway.  If any unusual odor is present or breathing issues develop, sit down; cover nose and mouth with a damp paper towel.   Take slow, shallow breaths and try to stay calm.
  • Turn On Radio.  During a chemical release, stations will continuously repeat instructions about how to shelter in place and provide more information as available.  Lamar University KVLU at FM 91.3 or National Weather Service at 162.475 can be accessed.
  • Only Use Telephone for Emergency Services.  Local officials may try to telephone using computerized telephone notification system. Do not call police, fire, or 9-1-1 unless reporting a police, fire or medical emergency at current location. Overloaded telephone circuits may keep actual emergency calls from getting through.
  • Do Not Try to Evacuate.  Evacuation may be an appropriate precaution during a flood or hurricane, but evacuation should not be attempted during a chemical emergency unless specifically ordered by officials. Leaving may cause exposure to more chemical vapors, especially if travel toward the leak or through the toxic cloud as it drifts downwind.
  • What If I Can't Find Shelter?  Even a poorly sealed building or vehicle provides some protection against chemical vapors. If inside a vehicle, close the vehicle's doors and windows and turn off the vehicle's air conditioning and ventilation system. Turn on the car radio for more information.
    • If stranded outside, move in a crosswind direction, so the wind is blowing from left to right, or right to left, but NOT directly into the face or from behind. The direction the wind is blowing can be determined by observing nearby trees, flags, or clouds in the sky.
  • How Will I Know When The Emergency Is Over?   Stay inside, sheltered in place, until the "All Clear" message from campus officials has been given. 
  • After the "All Clear" signal has been given, open all doors and windows, turn on air conditioning or heating system, then go outside to let the building "Air Out" for 15-30 minutes before re-entering.


Revised and Modified: 12/05/2022