Hazardous materials (HazMat) are dangerous goods that come in solid, liquid or gas form and that can harm people, other living organisms, property, or the environment. They are often subject to strict regulations.
Hazardous materials include goods that are radioactive, flammable, explosive, corrosive, oxidizing, asphyxiating, biohazardous, toxic, pathogenic, or allergenic. They are divided into classes on the basis of the specific chemical characteristics producing the greatest risk.
The City of Garland has a HazMat response team specially trained to handle responding to emergencies involving hazardous materials. The HazMat Response Team is made up of members of the Garland Fire Department and the Garland Health Department- Environmental Health Division.
During a Hazardous Materials Incident
Listen to local radio station - WBAP (820AM); or television stations for detailed information and instructions. Follow the instructions carefully. You should stay away from the area to minimize the risk of contamination. Remember that some toxic chemicals are odorless.
Asked to Evacuate
Do so immediately.
Stay upstream, uphill, and upwind! In general, try to go at least one-half mile (usually 8-10 city blocks) from the danger area.
Do not walk into or touch any spilled liquids, airborne mists, or condensed solid chemical deposits.
In a Motor Vehicle
Stop and seek shelter in a permanent building.
If you must remain in your car, keep car windows and vents closed and shut off the air conditioner and heater.
Requested to Stay Indoors
Close and lock all exterior doors and windows. Close vents, fireplace dampers, and as many interior doors as possible.
Turn off air conditioners and ventilation systems. In large buildings, set ventilation systems to 100 percent recirculation so that no outside air is drawn into the building. If this is not possible, ventilation systems should be turned off.
Go into the pre-selected shelter room. This room should be above ground and have the fewest openings to the outside.
Seal the room by covering each window, door, and vent using plastic sheeting and duct tape.
Use material to fill cracks and holes in the room, such as those around pipes.
Ten square feet of floor space per person will provide sufficient air to prevent carbon dioxide build-up for up to five hours, assuming a normal breathing rate while resting.
However, local officials are unlikely to recommend the public shelter in a sealed room for more than 2-3 hours because the effectiveness of such sheltering diminishes with time as the contaminated outside air gradually seeps into the shelter. At this point, evacuation from the area is the better protective action to take.
Also you should ventilate the shelter when the emergency has passed to avoid breathing contaminated air still inside the shelter.
After a Hazardous Materials Incident
The following are guidelines for the period following a hazardous materials incident:
Return home only when authorities say it is safe. Open windows and vents and turn on fans to provide ventilation.
Act quickly if you have come in to contact with or have been exposed to hazardous chemicals. Do the following:
- Follow decontamination instructions from local authorities. You may be advised to take a thorough shower, or you may be advised to stay away from water and follow another procedure.
- Seek medical treatment for unusual symptoms as soon as possible.
- Place exposed clothing and shoes in tightly sealed containers. Do not allow them to contact other materials. Call local authorities to find out about proper disposal.
- Advise everyone who comes in to contact with you that you may have been exposed to a toxic substance.
Find out from local authorities how to clean up your land and property.
Report any lingering vapors or other hazards to your local emergency services office.