Are You Ready?

Chemical Threats

Chemical agents are poisonous vapors, aerosols, liquids, and solids that have toxic effects on people, animals, or plants. They can be released by bombs or sprayed from aircraft, boats, and vehicles. They can be used as a liquid to create a hazard to people and the environment. Some chemical agents may be odorless and tasteless. They can have an immediate effect (a few seconds to a few minutes) or a delayed effect (2 to 48 hours). While potentially lethal, chemical agents are difficult to deliver in lethal concentrations. Outdoors, the agents often dissipate rapidly. Chemical agents also are difficult to produce.

A chemical attack could come without warning. Signs of a chemical release include people having difficulty breathing; experiencing eye irritation; losing coordination; becoming nauseated; or having a burning sensation in the nose, throat, and lungs. Also, the presence of many dead insects or birds may indicate a chemical agent release.

Take Protective Measures

Before a Chemical Attack
The following are guidelines for what you should do to prepare for a chemical threat:

Check your disaster supplies kit to make sure it includes:

During a Chemical Attack
The following are guidelines for what you should do in a chemical attack:

If you are instructed to remain in your home or office building, you should:

If you are caught in or near a contaminated area, you should:

After a Chemical Attack
Decontamination is needed within minutes of exposure to minimize health consequences. Do not leave the safety of a shelter to go outdoors to help others until authorities announce it is safe to do so.

A person affected by a chemical agent requires immediate medical attention from a professional. If medical help is not immediately available, decontaminate yourself and assist in decontaminating others.

Decontamination guidelines are as follows:

Download Plug-in

Some of the links on this page require a plug-in to view them. Links to the plug-ins are available below.

Click Here to Download Adobe Acrobat Reader Adobe Acrobat (PDF)

Last Modified: Friday, 30-May-2008 10:13:03 EDT