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Chemical Threat

A chemical attack could utilize chemicals specifically designed as weapons, such as nerve gas, or common commercial chemicals, such as chlorine.  The chemicals would most likely be gases or aerosols (that is, a mist of poisonous liquid).  The wind will spread the chemicals but will also quickly disperse them.  The key to surviving a chemical attack is to quickly get to a place where the air will remain clean. 

How to Identify a Chemical Attack

  • Some poisonous gases have an odor but many do not
  • Most will not be visible
  • The most likely first sign that you have been exposed to dangerous chemicals will be symptoms felt by you and others around you; depending on the chemical used, these symptoms may include:
    • Stinging eyes and throat
    • Running eyes
    • Coughing
    • Nausea
    • Loss of coordination

How to Prepare for a Chemical Attack

  • See Get A Kit and Make A Plan for general information
  • Add the following items to your kit; you can use these items to seal a safe room if the attack is outdoors:
    • Duct tape
    • Plastic sheeting or heavyweight garbage bags
    • Scissors

How to Respond to a Chemical Attack

  • You must find clean air quickly
  • If you are outside in a city:
    • Go into the nearest building (unless you believe the poison gas is coming from that building) 
    • Go into an interior room and close the doors and windows
    • Cover and seal air vents if possible
    • Upper floors will be safer than lower floors
    • Eventually, the poison gas outside will clear and it will be safer to go outside than to stay in the building;  if no one outside gives an all-clear, then carefully check through windows for outdoor activity before going outdoors again
  • Poison gas may be released inside a building. If you are inside and believe you are under chemical attack, the attack is most likely from inside your building
    • Look out a window; if people outside are behaving normally, the attack is from the inside
    • If you can open a window, do so and breathe fresh air
    • If you cannot open a window, leave the building by the most direct route;  if it is faster to get to the roof than the street, evacuate to the roof
    • If you move into a section of the building where symptoms of others are worse than yours, you may be moving into an area of more concentrated poison gas; use another route
  • Wash off chemicals once you have gotten to a place with clean air
    • Some dangerous chemical gases will completely dissipate in the air but some will stick to clothing, skin, and hair
    • As soon as you have access to water, remove clothing, glasses, and contact lenses and wash your skin and hair
    • Seek medical treatment

More Information

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