Those who are involved in traffic collisions with vehicles carrying hazardous materials need to be extremely cautious about the steps they take next. Motor vehicle collisions involving chemical spills and petroleum have to be approached cautiously by emergency teams, and victims at the scene should know what to do as well.
A breakdown of Hazardous materials:
· Determined to pose potential health risks by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation
· Particles or substances that may cause damage to a person’s health, property or safety during transport
· Dangerous goods and restricted items that could be hazardous without identification
· Chemical substances in liquid, gas or solid forms that are toxic to people and that may cause severe illness
In a collision with hazardous materials, the HAZMAT team may come to the scene to clean it up. Before that, though, you do need to report that you believe your collision involved hazardous materials (if you know). For example, if you were hit by a tanker truck and can see that it has a hazardous material sign on it, let the operator know when you call 911. If you can describe the sign to them, then the emergency team, firefighters, police and others will know more about what to expect at the scene and which medications or supports they may need.
You should know that Department of Transportation workers will come to the scene and determine if it is safe for outside workers to enter. This could mean waiting longer for care in some cases. Once the danger is reduced and the hazardous materials are stabilized, then the workers will come to assist.
What should you do if there is a spill at the scene?
If you are able to move to a safe location without coming into contact with the spill, you should pull your vehicle to the side of the road or to a nearby spot and call for help. If your vehicle is damaged, turn it off and exit it if possible. If you cannot move due to injuries, stay calm and stay where you are until help arrives at the scene.