Chemical Threat Preparedness 101

You can prepare for a chemical threat if you plan now to get to the right shelter, and have what you need to seal it from various toxic agents. During a chemical attack, you may be at risk of breathing or coming in contact with liquids, solids or odorless vapors that can make you sick, or in some cases, cause death. Here’s how to prepare for a chemical threat:

Get Ready to Seal Your Home

You don’t want any toxins entering your home through the windows, doorways, vents or cracks. It’s important to keep the air in your home free of chemical agents by sealing all areas where they might try to seep in. Therefore, pick a room that has the least amount of windows and vents (preferably none) and make sure you store the following in the room:

  • Duct tape
  • Plastic sheeting for any opening
  • Scissors
  • N95 masks
  • Long-term food supply
  • Water pouches and buckets, bottles and other containers full of water
  • AM/FM receiver
  • Cards, board games and other family entertainment that doesn’t require batteries
  • Extra clothes

Coming in and out of the room should be limited, because you don’t want toxic air contaminating the room you’ve just sealed up. You also want enough water for cleaning your hands and body, just in case you do come in contact with a chemical agent.

Prepare in Case You’re Out

In a perfect situation, you would be at home with your supplies during a chemical threat. However, you need to prepare for the worse case scenario, in which you’ll be at work or traveling in your car when chemical agents are released. It’s important then to fill your emergency car kit with a few essential items to help protect yourself:

  • N95 masks
  • Water pouches
  • Ready-to-eat meals
  • Deck of cards or something else to keep you from getting bored
  • AM/FM receiver
  • Extra clothes
  • Plastic bags
  • Street map

You need these supplies to use while you travel to your home or other designated shelter. Once you’re there, you’ll need to remove your potentially contaminated clothing and leave them out in the plastic bags you packed. You also need access to water outside, such as a garden hose, in order to wash your hands and body.

Plan a Safe Route Home

Getting home or to another shelter that you’ve planned in advance can be tricky if you haven’t thought of a safe route. The stress and anxiety of the situation can make it difficult for some to think on their feet, and being surrounded by other panicked people trying to make their way home won’t help. The best thing to do is think through how you’ll get home during a chemical threat. You need to figure out two routes for hiking on foot, as well as two for traveling in your car using back roads or other alternative routes.

The more you prepare for a chemical threat, the better off you’ll be to protect yourself and your family. You’ll also be in a position to help others who weren’t as prepared.