Chemical Safety

Chemical Spill Emergency Procedures

The following steps should be taken in the event of a chemical spill.

1. Evacuate

As you leave an area involved in a chemical spill, assist people exiting the area. Never enter a chemical spill area where you may place your health in jeopardy - call 911 for assistance.

  •  Evacuate personnel from the spill area.
  •  Shut off equipment as you leave the area.
  •  Direct personnel to nearest fire exit. Do not use elevators.
  •  Attend to victims.
  •  Alert neighboring laboratories.
  •  DO NOT go back in to an area where a chemical spill has occurred! Untrained rescuers not wearing proper  protective equipment have been overcome by toxic or asphyxiating fumes trying to rescue other victims, and died as a result.  

2. First aid

  •  Remove victims from spill area to fresh air (but do not endanger your own life by entering areas with toxic gases).
  •  Immediately remove contaminated clothing.
  •  Flush skin or eyes with running water for 15 minutes.
  •  Get medical attention for victims. 

              Chemicals spill over large body areas.  

  • Remove all contaminated clothing while under safety shower.
  • Flush affected body area with water for at least 15 minutes.
  • Wash off chemicals with mild detergent and water. 
  • Resume water wash if pain returns 
  • Seek immediate medical assistance. 
  • Make sure medical personnel understand exactly what chemicals are involved. 
  • Provide MSDS medical personnel. 

3. Confine

  •  Close doors.
  •  Isolate area.
  •  Open windows, if possible without exposing yourself to fumes.
  •  If vapors or gases are in room that is not vented to outside of building, close off room. 

4. Report

Call 911:

  •   for spills that involve injury requiring medical treatment,
  •   for spills that involve fire or explosion hazards,
  •   for spills which are potentially life threatening, and
  •   for all chemical spills after work hours (4:30 PM - 8:00 AM).

Call Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) at 753-0404 for chemical spill situations, which do not require  911 assistance.

  • Spills of 0.5 liters or more of a chemical, or any quantity of a highly reactive or toxic material, 
  • Metallic mercury spills, 
  • Spills of an unknown chemical, 
  • Spills you do not have proper training or proper protective equipment to do the cleanup, and 
  • Spills for which you have any questions or doubts about your ability to clean up the spill.

Be prepared to provide the provide the following information when you call 911 and EH&S:

  •  State that this is an emergency. 
  •  Give your name, telephone number and location. 
  •  Give the location of the incident. 
  •  Tell the time and type of incident. 
  •  Provide the name and quantity of material involved. 
  •  Note the extent of injuries, if any.

5. Secure

Until emergency responders arrive on the scene, you and your staff will have to block off entrances to the spill site and prevent people from entering the contaminated area.

  •   Lock doors leading to the chemical spill and post signs on doors warning of the spill.
  •   Post staff by commonly used entrances to the spill site, so they can warn people to use other routes.
  •   For large outdoor chemical spills, keep people upwind and uphill from the site. 

6. Response

EH&S or the DeKalb Fire Department will stabilize spills which are considered high hazard (fire, health or reactivity hazard). You may have to clean up low hazardous spills for which you have proper training and proper protective equipment. EH&S will advise you on what precautions and equipment to use.