The good things that chemicals bring into our lives have become indispensable to us. Although extremely rare, there always remains a slim chance a chemical emergency will occur in our community despite the extraordinary precautions that have been taken. With public safety in mind, the Local Emergency Planning Committees for Bossier Parish, established under Federal and State laws, are addressing the potential for a chemical release. This brochure will inform you of some precautions you can take to lessen the chance of serious injury should a chemical release occur.
What actions might you want to take?
In case of a hazardous materials emergency, you may be asked by local emergency services or called by Bossier OHSEP’s 24-hour telephone warning system, OHSEP FirstCall, to take one of three actions:
- Protect Your Breathing
Be sure you are clear about each. If you have neighbors who are hard of hearing, do not see well, or need additional assistance, please help them. Be sure they know what to do in an emergency.
What if you are told to protect your breathing?
- Cover your nose and mouth with a damp cloth. Fold the cloth over several times
- Close all windows and doors in the building or vehicle.
- Turn off heating, cooling, or ventilation systems.
What if you are told to shelter-in-place?
The goal with sheltering-in-place is to protect yourself inside your house or any other building. This is a good action to take if there is a short release or small amount of hazardous materials in the air. If your children are in school, school officials will protect them. Take these steps to protect yourself:
- Go inside and stay until your radio, TV, or a telephone message for the Bossier OHSEP FirstCall telephone warning system announces you can leave safely. This will most likely be no more than a few hours, rather than a day or more.
- Close all doors and windows.
- Turn off heating, cooling, or ventilation systems.
- Do not use fireplaces. Put out the fire and close the damper.
- Listen to local radio and TV stations for further instructions.
What if you are told to evacuate?
If told to evacuate, you should move to the place designated by public officials. Follow these steps to get ready for the trip:
- Stay as calm as possible.
- Gather and pack only what you and your family will need the most. Try to include the following:
- This Information
- Extra clothing
- Eyeglasses, dentures, prescription drugs, important medicines, and a first aid kit
- Baby supplies (if applicable)
- Portable / battery powered radio and flashlight
- Checkbook and credit cards
- Driver’s license or identification
- Remember as you leave to do the following:
- Turn off lights, household appliances, heating, cooling, or ventilation systems
- Leave refrigerator and freezer on
- Lock you home
- DO NOT go to your children’s school to pick them up. This delays their move to a safe place. Schools have emergency plans to take special care of the children.
- DO NOT try to call you children’s school. During an emergency, these phone lines will be needed for official business.
- DO NOT listen to rumors. Tune into you radio or TV for up-todate information regarding the emergency.
- DO NOT use your phone. Only use the phone if you or someone you know is injured, too sick, or cannot otherwise evacuate. If you must use the phone, keep the call short and to the point.
- Use only one vehicle for you family. If you have room, please check to see if any neighbors need a ride.
- Keep your car windows and air vents closed.
- Listen to local radio stations for reports about your route and other information. Tune your radio to 1130AM or 94.5FM.
- Drive safely as traffic will be heavy. Law enforcement officers along the route will direct traffic.
- If you need a ride, go with a neighbor, friend, or relative. Call Bossier OHSEP, (318) 425-5351, if you need emergency transportation.
- Do not worry about the property you have left. Law enforcement officers will protect it; National Guard troops will be called if more help is needed; and roadblocks will keep people out of the area you have left.
- If your children have to leave their schools for a safer place, they will be the first to move. Their teachers and other adults will take them to a designated place. You will be told by radio or TV where and when to pick up your children.
What should you do if you know there is a chemical release and it is coming towards you?
Be prepared to get you and your family out of the area if directed to do so by the local authorities (police or fire departments). You should also be prepared to protect yourself wherever you are if evacuation is not possible or necessary.
Studies have shown that even poorly sealed buildings give some protection from a serious amount of gas entering the building. Those results would indicate that if you are outside, you should go in your home or nearby public building, or get in you automobile. Once inside, close off all outside ventilation, such as windows, or the air conditioner. Stay inside and wait for the cloud to pass.
If you do feel the gas entering the building and you are in danger, a wet cloth or towel over you nose and mouth will act as a filter and offer some protection.
In any event, staying inside is safer than trying to outrun a release.
If you are outside and can not possibly get inside, move crosswind (in a direction as the wind is blowing from you left to right or vice versa, but not into your face or from behind.) This offers the best advantage for getting out of the path of the release.
In either case, remain calm and wait until you receive additional instructions before taking any further actions.