General guidelines for chemical emergencies
Always be ready! An emergency happens without any warning, so know how to react quickly:
- Know the location of emergency and first aid equipment including eye wash stations, safety
showers, and first aid cabinets
- Know who has first aid training in your area.
- Know emergency phone numbers. Have them posted by the telephone in your work area.
- Be able to tell emergency responders the exact name of the chemical involved.
- Never try to put out a fire unless you know what the substance is and what type of extinguisher
- Remember that many materials produce toxic fumes when they burn.
- Immediately call (9), 911 and ask for the fire department.
- Evacuate the area.
- Fire extinguisher training is encouraged for all employees. The environmental health and
safety office can arrange a class for you.
- Never enter an area to help an unconscious person, unless you are sure that hazardous
fumes or lack of oxygen will not overcome you.
- If you can enter the area safely, evacuate the victim to fresh air immediately.
- Call for help. Get a person trained in first aid or call the fire department at (9), 911.
- If the victim’s eyes or skin are contaminated, flush with running water for 20–30
minutes. Remove contaminated clothing.
- Never give liquids to an unconscious person.
- Use a fume hood when you work with hazardous materials and volatile liquids.
- Know the symptoms and effects of overexposure to the fumes of materials that you work
- Get to fresh air immediately if you feel a burning sensation in your eyes, nose, or throat,
or if you feel dizzy, nauseated, or weak.
- Close the container of the material causing you discomfort.
- If none of these measures help, evacuate the area.
- Flush your eyes with water for at least 20–30 minutes. Hold your eye open and rotate
your eyeballs to clear the material from all areas.
- Do not use ointments or salves. They may be dangerous.
- Always remove contact lenses if possible before flushing.
- Seek medical attention.
- Drench clothing and skin with plenty of water. Use any available water including safety
showers, garden hose, or faucet.
- Remove contaminated clothing while flushing with water.
- Seek medical attention.
Get help in dealing with LARGE spills. Call community safety (extension 7533) and
the environmental health and safety office (extension 7788).
- Isolate the area. Keep away from the spill unless you know what it is and how to handle it.
If you don’t know, call for help.
- Control access to the area. Don’t leave the material unattended.
- Protect yourself and others. Provide a thorough report on the conditions to community
safety. Treat all materials as hazardous until proven otherwise. Do not touch, ingest, or inhale
material. Do not rush to aid victims until you understand the problem. Stay clear of all spills,
vapors, fumes, and smoke.
- Eliminate ignition sources. Never smoke around a spill.
- Know the location of and how to use personal protective equipment such as respirators,
goggles, gloves, and boots.
For SMALL or incidental spills use the same basic precautions as you use for large
spills: isolate the area, control access to the area, protect yourself and others, eliminate ignition
sources, and know
how to use protective gear.
- Know the proper spill clean-up method.
- Cover the spill with spill absorbent.
- Allow the spill to absorb.
- Sweep up the absorbed material.
- Place the material in a plastic bag, seal and label it with the contents of the spill.
- Take the spill residue to Chemistry 211 or call the environmental health and safety office.
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