HazMat Spill Preparedness

If you’re a homeowner, there’s an excellent chance you’ll have to store hazardous materials in your pursuit of good housekeeping. Learn how to address your own spills and how to prepare for the more sinister stuff that might leak from your industrial neighbors.

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HazMat Spill Facts

Hazardous materials include (but are not limited to) substances that are explosive, flammable, highly reactive, corrosive, or toxic.

Billions of tons of hazardous materials travel by truck and train in the US each year.

A natural gas leak counts as a hazardous material spill!

Dozens of household items qualify as hazardous materials. If your family has a vomit chain reaction during dinner, both the puke (biohazard) and the bleach you use to clean it up (corrosive), are HazMat. Containing them is the key to safety!

How to Prepare for a Hazardous Materials Spill

  • Create a spill kit or purchase a prepackaged kit so you’ll be ready to react if there’s a spill.
  • Check for leaks! Natural gas leaks at home and oil leaks from your car could cause a big problem.
  • Keep your hazardous materials clearly labeled and in their original containers. Keep them out of direct sunlight, away from kids and pets.
  • Make sure your household knows which materials are hazardous, and what to do if there is a spill at home. Make a communication plan which includes spill reporting numbers.
  • Understand disposal requirements for hazardous materials. Most can’t go in the trash, so don’t just chuck it if you’re not sure.
  • Run a “Rescue, Confine, Report, Secure” drill to make sure your family knows how to react to a big spill.
  • Seal your gaps/vents with sheeting and tape if asked to shelter indoors during a large spill. Turn off your HVAC, turn on your air purifiers, and wear a mask.
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What Not to Do During a HazMat Spill

Here are some hazardous material tips for you, if you’re better with “DON’Ts” than “DOs”

Don’t Store Oily Rags

They cause 900 fires a year! Dry, dunk, and dispose of them properly to avoid a fire. Keep them submerged in water until you can dispose of them.

Don’t Ignore It

If you’re in charge of the spill, start clean up or evacuation right away. If you’re instructed to get indoors due to a larger spill, go quickly.

Don’t Forget your Go Bag

You might be asked to evacuate quickly if there’s a big spill nearby. Make sure you have 72 hours of gear ready to go.