Chemical Emergencies


Chemicals affect our lives daily. They are in and around our homes to provide a better life for us all. However, exposure to certain harmful chemicals can be extremely dangerous. You can be exposed through accidents involving home chemicals as well as through large-scale chemical emergencies in your area.



How to Prepare

  • Verify and update official contact information in the Marine Corps Enterprise Mass Notification System (eMNS), and register all cell phones, home phone, email addresses, etc. in eMNS. 

  • Make a written evacuation plan.

  • Make a written emergency communication plan. 

  • Build an emergency kit.



What to do if there is a chemical emergency

Basic Information
  • You will be notified if there is a chemical emergency.

  • Listen for instructions and follow them carefully.

  • Do not use your telephone unless absolutely necessary. 

  • Do not go outside.

  • Once you are in a safe place, follow your command’s protocols for personnel accountability and contact your command’s designated Point of Contact to check-in and report your location and situation.

If not told to evacuate
  • Close windows and doors.

  • Close fireplace dampers.

  • Turn off fans.

  • Turn off air conditioning or heat.

  • Tape around doors, windows, and vents.

  • You can use plastic bags to cover windows, outlets, and heat registers.

  • Wedge wet towels in door thresholds.

  • Take your family to an above ground room with few windows and doors if possible.

  • Keep your kit and a radio with you to listen for updates.

If told to evacuate
  • Take only essential items and your disaster supply kit.

  • If you have time, shut vents, turn off appliances and lights, and close and lock all doors and windows.

  • Follow the evacuation plan.

  • Once inside your car, close windows and air vents, and turn off the heat or air conditioner.



Home Chemical Emergencies

  • Do not mix any household chemi­cals together. Some combinations, like ammonia and bleach, can pro­duce a toxic gas.

  • Carefully read and follow directions.

  • Store household chemicals in clearly marked, tightly closed containers.

  • Make sure the chemicals are stored out of the reach of children and away from any food.

  • Never work with chemicals near lit cigarettes or open flames (candle, pilot light, fireplace, wood-burning stove, etc.).

  • If you spill a chemical, put on gloves and eye protection and clean it up immediately with rags. Place the rags outside to allow the chemical to evaporate. Dispose of the rags after wrapping them in newspaper.



Major chemical emergencies

  • A major chemical emergency is an accident in which large amounts of hazardous chemicals are released into the surrounding environment.

  • Accidents may happen anywhere, including chemical and manufac­turing plants, highways, railroad tracks, and underground.

  • In addition, chemical emergencies may result from deliberate attacks targeting such facilities.

  • Chemical emergencies may include a fire or explosion.

  • You may not smell or see any evidence of a chemical emergency, but this doesn’t diminish the high level of danger.



Health Risks

If you have a chemical burn
  • Remove any clothing or jewelry that came in contact with the chemical and discard, as some chemicals may not wash out completely.

  • Flush the burn with cold water.

  • If your eyes are burned, remove any contacts before flushing with water. 

  • Loosely cover burn with a dry sterile or clean cloth or dressing. 

  • Seek medical attention immediately.


Symptoms of Exposure
  • Labored breathing

  • Headaches and/or blurred vision

  • Irritated eyes, skin and/or throat

  • Changes in skin color

  • Dizziness

  • Stomach cramps and/or diarrhea

  • Strange behavior including uncoordination or clumsiness


Set your own course through any hazard: stay informed, make a plan, build a kit. Live Ready Marine Corps.