How to Prevent a Hazardous Material Spill

Kids spilling food GIF
Don’t give hazardous materials to people who lack motor skills.

Safety first! If your kids are clumsy idiots, don’t let them handle the pesticides. That’s just good parenting. The best way to deal with a hazardous material spill is preventing one completely!

Here are some precautions that you can take that will help you prevent a hazardous material spill:

  1. Keep hazardous products in their original containers with the labels intact. If required, re-pack and re-label. Never keep hazardous products in unlabeled containers.
  2. Do not store hazardous material in repurposed food containers. 
  3. Do not let hazardous material come in contact with other products. If mixed, these may react, ignite, or explode. 
  4. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions closely while handling and storing household chemicals.
  5. Do not smoke, light a match, or allow fire of any kind near hazardous materials. Hair sprays, cleaning solutions, paint, and pesticides are especially flammable. Fumes are also flammable, so keep your work area well ventilated.
  6. Label hazardous waste and isolate it in a holding area if it’s awaiting disposal.
  7. Research and follow proper disposal methods for all household hazardous waste. HazMat doesn’t go in the regular trash!

Some of the most common household hazardous material spills are easy to prevent if you have the right knowledge and materials.

How to Prevent a Gas Leak

  1. Check your gas appliances and hoses regularly for wear and tear. This includes furnaces, water heaters, stoves, and electric generators.
    • If you notice any flaws, get them fixed as soon as possible.
  2. On stoves, a consistent blue flame is a good sign. If your flame is turning yellow or orange, your stove may be developing a gas leak. Time to call in an expert!
Rule of Thumb

Preventing gas leaks during a disaster like an earthquake or wildfire is a major responsibility. Make sure you know how to turn your gas off and on in case of emergency.

How to Prevent an Oil Spill

  1. If your car smells like burning oil when you drive it, you might have an oil leak. Oil leaks can lead to oil spills, so be sure to check it sooner than later. If you see dark spots below your engine on the driveway, it’s definitely time to get it checked.
    • Your car can also leak fuel. If you ever smell gas paired with a wet spot near your fuel tank, go to the mechanic ASAP.
  2. If you change your own oil, make sure you have the right tools to contain the used oil.
    • You can also use sand and cat litter to stop the flow of spilled oil and other chemicals. Keep these handy.

How to Prevent a Mercury Spill

A broken thermometer is the most likely cause of a mercury spill at home.

  1. Stop buying thermometers that contain mercury already. There are plenty of mercury-free options!
  2. Only assume a thermometer is mercury-free if the packaging specifically states it. Consider all other thermometers mercury hazards.
  3. Keep the thermometer in its original packaging after use. Never leave the package open as it increases the chances of the thermometer breaking and causing a mercury spill.
  4. Follow the EPA’s steps on how to clean a mercury spill.

Prevention is best, but preparation is a close second!

Two people in gas masks
The family that prepares together stays together.

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.