Before, During and After a Hazmat Release

Hazardous materials come in the form of explosives, poisons, and flammable and combustible chemical substances. Accidents with chemicals can occur during production like in a lab class, when being stored, or during transportation, use, or disposal. You may be at risk if a chemical is used unsafely or released in harmful amounts into the environment.

Read below how to prevent, protect against, and recover from a chemical release.

Before

  • If you regularly use chemicals, store where other students, employees, and visitors cannot access them, or in locked areas.
  • Know where to quickly access Shelter-in-Place supplies if there is a spill. This would include duct tape, plastic to cover doors, windows, vents, scissors.
  • For extreme weather temperatures, review the temperature range for chemicals stored outdoors. If outdoor temperatures will be outside of the range listed on the chemical container, contact UIC Environmental Health and Safety Office: (312) 996-7411.
  • DO NOT mix chemicals without researching their reaction: some chemicals may react to create poisonous fumes, ignite, or explode.
  • DO NOT use chemicals near an open flame.

During

  • If the chemical release is INDOORS and you are INDOORS do this:

    • If safe to do so, close all doors and turn off ventilation systems in order to isolate the affected area in your building.
    • Then evacuate the building and go to a safe area.
  • If the chemical release is OUTDOORS and you are OUTDOORS do this:

    • Travel uphill and upwind, cover your mouth with a cloth or mask, seek shelter in a solid building.
  • If the chemical release is OUTDOORS and you are INDOORS do this:

    • Close exterior doors. Direct others to a room with fewer doors and windows above the ground floor.
    • Use duct tape, plastic or similar sheeting, and scissors to cover doors, windows, and vents. Use a wet cloth to fill in wall or door gaps.
    • Cover your nose and mouth with a cloth or mask.
    • Place clothing with chemicals on it in a sealed bag.

In any situation:

  • Evacuate or shelter-in-place as appropriate, monitoring for UIC ALERTs.
  • Avoid eating or drinking anything that may have been exposed to the chemical.
  • DO NOTattempt to contain the spill or identify the substances that are involved unless safety permits, you have been properly trained, and it is an expectation of your job or position at UIC.
  • From a safe area, call (312) 996-SAFE (7233) or UIC Police at (312) 355-5555 and communicate:
    • ­The location/building name/address of the leak or spill
    • ­The source and extent of the leak or spill, and number of rooms/floors involved
    • If anyone is experiencing symptoms of exposure (e.g., difficulty breathing, dizziness, irritation of the eyes, skin, or throat, blurred vision, fainting, etc.). DO NOT give medicine (pain reliever) or take it yourself unless advised by a medical professional
  • Account for those with you (and notify your direct supervisor if an employee), with their names and affiliation: student, employee, or visitor. Communicate missing persons to emergency response personnel.
  • DO NOT leave a safe area until known emergency response personnel or a UIC ALERT advises it is safe to do so.

After

  • In the event you are exposed to a chemical, immediately wash/flush the exposed area for 15 minutes with cool water from an emergency shower or eyewash station (in areas where hazmat is stored or used), a restroom sink, or water cooler. Then proceed to the University Health Service or the UIH Emergency Room at 1740 W. Taylor St. when the emergency is over.
  • If a potentially toxic substance may be accidentally ingested, to receive expert guidance call Poison Control: (800) 222-1222. 
  • Discard clothing that may be contaminated; some chemicals do not wash out completely.
  • Open windows, doors, and vents, turn on fans for ventilation.
  • If an injury occurs, ensure that a First Report of Injury is led by the Environmental Health and Safety Office (safe@uic.edu) and that your supervisor is notified.