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Charleston County Local Emergency Planning Committee

L  E  P  C




What to do during a Chemical Emergency


Depending on the situation, emergency personnel could ask you to Shelter in Place or Evacuate.                                         


Whatever the case


Try to stay calm.  Familiarize yourself with this brochure so you will be better prepared in the future.  If your neighbors are elderly, disabled or have small children, they may need extra help.  It is critical that you monitor your local radio or TV stations for the latest information and official instructions.


Shelter in Place


With a relatively minor chemical incident, you should go indoors unless otherwise directed by emergency personnel.  Remain inside until local officials report conditions are all clear.  School officials will shelter your children while they are in school.  Please do not call the school or go to the school.


If you are at home…

  • Close all doors and windows, placing damp towels around any sills or openings.

  • Turn off your heating or air system.  Close all vents.

  • Do not use your fireplace and make sure to close the dampers.





If you are in a vehicle…

  • Go inside a public building or your home, if possible.  Otherwise, remain in your car.

  • Close the car windows and vents, turn the air conditioner and heater completely off.


If outside and cannot go indoors…

  • Stay upwind, if possible, and stay out of low areas; or

  • Move crosswind so the wind blows from your left or right, but not in your face or from behind.





In a chemical incident, you may be directed to leave and given specific route instructions.  If no route is give, use the shortest path out of the area.


If you are asked to evacuate immediately…

  • Turn off all electrical and working appliances but keep the refrigerator and freezer on.

  • Close all doors and windows.  Be sure to lock your house and garage.

  • Do not use your phone unless you have a police, fire or medical emergency.

  • Bring you Disaster Supplies Kit.


Always have a Disaster Supplies Kit Ready…

  • A supply of water in sealed, unbreakable containers.  Replace every six months.

  • A supply of non-perishable packaged or canned food and a non-electric can opener.

  • A change of clothing, rain gear, sturdy shoes.

  • Blankets, pillows, sleeping bags.

  • A first aid kit and prescription medications.

  • A battery-powered radio, flashlight, batteries.

  • Credit cards, cash, car keys, eye glasses.

  • A list of important family information including personal identification and a list of family physicians.

  • Special items for infants, elderly or disabled family members.





A note about shelters…

If shelters are opened, their locations will be announced by the media.  Do not call or go to your children’s schools or day care facilities.  Children are the first to be evacuated.  Officials will transport them to the appropriate shelters.  You can find out your children’s location by either monitoring the news or by speaking with personnel at your shelter.


The Storage and Use of Chemicals at Home


The careless storage and improper use of chemicals can lead to an accident at home.  These precautions can reduce the possibility of an incident:


When storing chemicals…

  • Be sure to separate hazards such as pesticides, fertilizers, as well as pool and auto supplies, from each other.

  • Keep flammable liquids like gasoline or kerosene in cool areas and away from flame and heat producing devices like furnaces and water heaters. 

  • Try to store liquid chemicals at floor level to reduce the possibility of accidental falls and breakage.

  • At the same time, make sure to lock cleansers, solvents, medicines, etc. in a place where children cannon get to them.

  • Eliminate unnecessary storage by only purchasing items you will use immediately.


When using chemicals…

  • Never mix cleaning agents such as bleach and chlorinated substances with each other.

  • Follow the directions on the container for usage and disposal.


Keep in mind…

  • In the event of a chemical emergency at home or if you need to report an incident, call 911.

  • If you or anyone else are involved in a hazardous materials incident, never attempt to drive to the hospital or doctor for treatment.

  • Emergency Medical Services responders are trained to evaluate, treat and transport people who may have been exposed during a chemical incident.




Questions about hazardous chemicals


Q  Why are there so many incidents involving hazardous materials in industries?


There are not, really.  Far more incidents occur at home, at the office or in transit than occur at business facilities which manufacture or use hazardous materials.  You may hear about industrial incidents because they have the potential to affect many people.  Since these incidents are relatively rare-especially considering the frequency of other hazards like auto accidents or acts of violence – they capture our curiosity and make the headlines.


Q  Why do we even have these hazardous materials, and, how are they used?


Because as consumers, we want the products that are made from these materials.  We have lighter, more efficient vehicles, lifesaving medicines, wrinkle free clothing and flame-retardant plastics because of the hazardous chemicals necessary in their manufacturing.


Q  What is being done to reduce the impact of a chemical spill?


Your emergency services agencies – law enforcement, fire and EMS have training in response to chemical incidents.  Additionally, each emergency service has a response plan that is coordinated with other area departments in additional to municipal, county, state and federal response plans.  Local emergency responders are specially trained and equipped to deal with chemical releases.  All these plans and responders work with industry to reduce the impact of potential chemical releases.





Charleston County Local Emergency Planning Committee


The LEPC is a volunteer organization with representatives from private industries along with public service and emergency response agencies throughout Charleston County.  The group’s purpose is to develop and maintain a comprehensive emergency plan to deal with hazardous materials incidents and to work with facilities to minimize associated risks.


The LEPC meets the second Wednesday of each month at 9:30 am.  Guest are welcome to attend.  A current schedule, membership information and the next meeting location are available from:




Charleston County Hazardous Materials Division

4045 Bridge View Drive ( Second  Floor)

North Charleston, South Carolina 29405

(843) 958-4071 or 4067 Office

(843) 958-4070 Fax





For more information on the handling or disposal of chemicals, contact the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SC DHEC) at (843) 740-1590.






LEPC is a partner of the

Charleston County, S.C. Area Project Impact







Copyright © 2009-2013, Charleston County Local Emergency Committee. All rights reserved.