How to Be Prepared for a Hazmat Spill

New employee dealing with oil leak GIF
He should have read this guide.

Preparation! That’s the ticket. Follow our five step plan to preparing for a hazmat spill:

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1. Get a Spill Kit

What is a spill kit?

A spill kit, also called a spill response kit, contains equipment you can use to clean up a hazardous spill. 

These kits usually include:

This type of kit is geared to spilled liquids like gasoline, oil, fuel, hazardous chemicals, solvents, etc. 

Several prepackaged spill response kits are available in the market. Don’t want to hit the store? If you’re a small-scale hoarder like the rest of us, you may already have what you need to make a kit. DIY, my friend!

Garage full of hazardous materials
I spy with my little eye… nine hazardous materials.

2. If You Regularly Use or Store Hazardous Substances

Whether you’re an artist with a few bottles of turpentine, a DIY pool guy with all the gear, or a gardening enthusiast well-stocked on pesticides, you’ve got hazards!

Ensure everyone with access to your storage areas you knows what items you’re storing and basic information about clean-up from the EPA. Consider limiting access to your chemicals, which should already be out of reach of children and pets.

3. In Case of Gas Spills, Ventilate All Contaminated Air

Hopefully, you’ll be spilling your gas in the garage or driveway, but if you’re spilling it in the house, turn your HVAC fan on high, open the windows, consider calling a professional cleaner, and make sure your family is out of the house. The air might be unsafe for multiple days depending on the size of the spill and what absorbed it.

Gas spills outdoors should ventilate on their own, but if you’ve spilled in the garage, you may need to leave your HVAC system and fans running for a few hours to fully exchange the air. If you don’t already have an HVAC system, the time is now!

Rule of Thumb

There’s no reason to take gasoline into the living areas of your house. Just don’t do it.

If you do spill gas, remember that the fumes are flammable, and the liquid gas will also remain flammable for some time after the spill.

4. Prepare a family emergency plan

First things first, keep your hazardous materials well out of reach of children. Everyone in your family with access to your chemicals should know how to properly store them and clean them up. Your at-home spill plan should be well known by everyone.

In case of a hazardous spill from an external source, prepare a family emergency plan. This is especially important if you live near a facility that processes, manufactures, or stores large amounts of hazardous materials. Your plan should include what steps to take in case of contaminated air, water, and soil, since each scenario is different. Everyone old enough to take action during an emergency should be aware of the emergency plan. Create a communication plan to make sure you maintain contact during the emergency.

5. Identify authorities to contact

When you make your emergency plan, write it down in detail and make sure it’s accessible to your family. You can keep a copy with your emergency kits, or near your garage door–wherever works best for you.

The first page of your emergency plan should be a list of phone numbers in case you need assistance, want to learn more about a rumored spill, or need to report a spill. Make sure you also have the contact info for all of the nearby facilities that might be the source of a dangerous spill. And if you start to feel faint, put on your emergency equipment (like your mask) before you make the call!

factory with smoke stacks
If you live near anything like this, you should have a plan.

Now that we’re prepared, let’s talk turkey. How do you deal with a real life spill?

About the Authors

It takes a village! We are researching, writing and fact checking as a family. Collaboration is the name of the game, whether we’re running from a zombie horde or finding the best way to turn a complex concept into a deliciously digestible set of bullet points.

Katherine Esperanza is a Los Angeles based writer. When she's not conjuring new queer slice-of-life short stories, she's busy watching the newest films, out at queer shows, supporting queer artists, or just checking out the queer community as a whole.

A former international non-profiteer, small business owner, and co-op'er, Katherine is delighted to help introduce more leftist politics into the disaster preparedness/prepper sphere, which is currently far too right-wing.