Section 15 - What Should I Do During a Chemical Release Emergency?

Local officials may recommend the following appropriate protective actions during a chemical emergency.  You 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. Physical plant 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 you smell any unusual odor or have trouble breathing, you should sit down; cover your nose and mouth with a damp paper towel.   Take slow, shallow breaths and try to stay calm.
  • Turn On Your Radio.  During a chemical release, stations will continuously repeat instructions about how to shelter in place and provide more information as it's available.  You can access Lamar University KVLU at FM 91.3 or access the National Weather Service at 162.475 on your weather band.
  • Stay Off the Telephone.  Local officials may try to telephone using computerized telephone notification system. Do not call police, fire, or 9-1-1 unless you are reporting a police, fire or medical emergency at your 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 you should NOT attempt an evacuation during a chemical emergency unless specifically ordered by officials. Leaving may expose you to more chemical vapors, especially if you 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 you are inside a vehicle, close your vehicle's doors and windows, and turn off the vehicle's air conditioning and ventilation system. Turn on your car radio for more information.
    • If you can't get inside, move in a crosswind direction, so the wind is blowing from left to right, or right to left, but NOT directly into your face or from behind you. You can see what direction the wind is blowing 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 you hear the "All Clear" message from local officials over your city's siren system, telephone notification system, or on the local emergency management radio station. 
  • After the "All Clear" signal has been given, open all doors and windows, turn on your air conditioning or heating system, then go outside to let the building "Air Out" for 15-30 minutes before you re-enter.