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How to Survive a Toxic Spill

There is no doubt that a toxic spill is a very dangerous situation for people near the accident and people within the contamination zone. Hazardous waste disposal is necessary at this point.

While toxic spills are not a common occurrence, it is important to be prepared, particularly if live in or near an industrial area. If a spill happens near you, there are some steps you can take to keep yourself and your family safe.

The first thing to do is evacuate the area. To facilitate getting out as quickly as possible, having a packed “go bag” for each family member ready at all times is a good idea. Sturdy shoes, toiletries, medication and a few changes of seasonally-appropriate clothing for each family member, in a bag that is suited for their size, is a good place to start. After that, distribute the following items in the bags of each family member:

  • Flashlight
  • Battery-operated radio
  • Extra batteries
  • Whistles
  • Dust masks
  • Pocket knives
  • Emergency cash in small denominations, quarters for phone calls and updated phone card
  • Butane lighter and waterproof matches
  • Local and regional maps
  • Water and food (snacks and one or two bottles per person)
  • Permanent marker, paper and tape
  • Photos of family members and pets for identification purposes
  • List of emergency point-of-contact phone numbers
  • List of allergies to any drug (especially antibiotics) or food
  • Copy of health insurance and identification cards
  • Extra prescription eye glasses, hearing aid or other vital personal items
  • Prescription medications and first-aid supplies
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Extra keys to your house and vehicle
  • Any special-needs items for children, seniors or disabled family members.

Once these items have been packed, you will be ready to leave your area at a moment’s notice. If the spill is airborne or has the potential to become airborne, don’t try to race the wind to stay uncontaminated. Do your best to move upwind or stay upwind.

Your safest bet is to travel to family or close friends who live far outside the contamination zone. You will avoid people looking to make money off this tragedy and you’ll avoid looking vulnerable to people who would take whatever you have. Once you have evacuated the spill zone and the potential contamination zone, you will be able to plan your next steps from a place of safety.

Next, contact an environmental remediation company, such as Environmental Works.

Do not attempt to return to your home until you are given the all-clear by emergency personnel. There is nothing at your home worth more than your life and health, so be patient and safe.