← Go to News Feed




May is Toxic Injury and Chemical Awareness Month

May 7th, 2019 1:34 pm

Contact: Sgt. Joel Roon - 616.632.6106
Email: joel.roon@kentcountymi.gov
Supervisor Approval: Lou Hunt - Emergency Manager 

May Typically is Toxic Injury and Chemical Awareness Month Residents Are Encouraged to Develop a Shelter in Place Plan

Grand Rapids Mich. (May 6, 2019) – May has typically been designated as Toxic Injury and Chemical Awareness Month in Michigan to educate residents about the chemicals they routinely encounter, the importance of proper chemical storage and handling to prevent toxic injury, and how to prepare for a chemical accident or attack. 

Residents encounter chemicals in their air, food, water, and indoor/outdoor environments every day. While there are benefits to certain chemicals, they can escape from their intended location, by accidental or purposeful release, and impact public safety. To prepare for these rare incidents, residents are encouraged to develop a shelter in place plan. 

When a chemical accident or attack occurs, the area fire department and hazmat team will quickly be dispatched to the location to identify if it is an emergency, how to stabilize the situation, and what protective measures need to occur for responders and the public who may be exposed. If there is an exposure risk to the public, the vulnerable area will be established and the decision will be made to have impacted residents evacuate or shelter in place.

The most common directive is to shelter in place because time generally does not allow for mobilizing people quickly and most airborne chemicals will quickly dissipate. During a shelter in place order, residents should: 

  • Go indoors, close windows, and lock all doors to give a better seal,
  • Turn off heaters, air conditioners, circulation fans that bring the outside air inside,
  • Further isolate interior air by placing plastic or tape on the inside of windows, doors and over vents and electrical outlets if warranted, and 
  • Stay tuned to TV, radio and social media for more direction from local authorities.

Sheltering in place for a chemical emergency does not include going to the lowest floor of a building, because very often, chemicals are heavier than air and potentially concentrate in low lying areas.

The potential to be involved in a chemical incident is very rare; however, having a shelter in place plan is important. Residents must remember - To be prepared is to be empowered.