If a spill is suspected, attempt to first determine what might be the source. Are you familiar with the material used in the area? Can you see the container or pipes near the spill? Can you read any warning signs or numbers? Can you smell anything? What does it smell like? Can you see condensation or a fog-like mist? What can you hear?

If you are still uncertain as to the source of the spill or you know for certain what material has spilled, notify the key management officials responsible for controlling a spill, immediately! Continue to contact management personnel until you have received appropriate instructions. At some facilities, security personnel may be required and expected to notify outside emergency services prior to contacting local management. However, it is advisable, that if in doubt, security personnel should first attempt to notify a key management official.

Once a management official has been notified, security personnel may be expected to attempt to contain the spill or leak. Never attempt to contain a significant spill or leak unless you have been properly trained in the use of personal protective equipment including self-contained breathing apparatus. However, if properly trained, security personnel may be able to contain the spill by using a clay-like substance or other absorbing material which will serve to absorb the material.

Security personnel may be instructed by the management representative or, if outlined in writing in the Emergency Preparedness Plan, to contact the local fire department or Hazardous Material Response team. At this time, an evacuation of the facility and adjacent homes and businesses may be ordered. Again, each facility’s emergency response to a chemical spill will vary depending upon the material which has been spilled, the amount of the spill, the toxicity of the material, and the instructions detailed in the pre-emergency planning stages.

At all times, the safety of personnel is the single most important element in responding to a chemical spill. Failure to use personal protective equipment has injured and killed many emergency responders who failed to evaluate the situation prior to entering the contaminated area. Even if a rescue of another person is necessary, be certain that appropriate safeguards are taken into consideration before rushing into an emergency.