Technological Threats – Hazardous Materials

Download Wisconsin Chemical Release Toolkit

Wisconsin faces several potential dangers due to the presence of hazardous materials at sites across the state. While numerous safety measures are in place and checked regularly, it’s still important to be aware of their presence and how to stay safe in the event of an accidental release.
Wisconsin has many potential sources for technological threats:

  • 3 active nuclear power plants that could impact parts of Wisconsin
  • 3,678 miles of railroad tracks
  • 111,517 miles of roads and highways
  • 150-200 airports
  • Numerous active harbors along Lakes Superior and Michigan and the Mississippi River.

Chemicals are found everywhere and help with many everyday tasks:

  • Purify drinking water
  • Increase crop production
  • Simplify household chores

Hazards can occur during:

  • Production
  • Storage
  • Transportation
  • Use
  • Disposal

You and your community could be at risk if a chemical is used unsafely or released in harmful amounts into the environment where you live, work, or play.

Hazardous materials in various forms can cause:

  • Death
  • Serious injury
  • Long-lasting health effects
  • Damage to buildings, homes, and other property

Many products containing hazardous chemicals are used and stored in homes routinely. These products are also shipped daily on the nation’s highways, railroads, waterways, and pipelines.

Varying quantities of hazardous materials are manufactured, used, or stored at an estimated 4.5 million facilities in the United States–from major industrial plants to local dry-cleaning establishments or gardening supply stores.

Hazardous materials come in the form of:

    • Explosives
    • Flammable and combustible substances
    • Poisons
  • Radioactive materials

How to prepare for a Hazardous Materials Emergency

  • Determine how close you are to freeways, railroads or factories which may produce or transport toxic materials.
  • Be prepared to evacuate – for hours, days, or even weeks
  • Prepare a “go kit” for yourself and your loved ones
  • Develop an emergency plan and practice it
  • Create plans and kits for your pets
  • Have materials available to seal off your residence from airborne contamination in the event you are told to “shelter in place”

What to do During a Hazardous Materials Incident:

  • Listen to local radio or television stations for detailed information and instructions
  • Stay away from the area to minimize the risk of contamination
  • Remember that some toxic chemicals are odorless

Additional resources:
Wisconsin Chemical Release Toolkit

If you are: Then:
Asked to evacuate Do so immediately.

Stay tuned to a radio or television for information on evacuation routes, temporary shelters, and procedures.

Follow the routes recommended by the authorities–shortcuts may not be safe. Leave at once.

If you have time, minimize contamination in the house by closing all windows, shutting all vents, and turning off attic fans.

Take pre-assembled disaster supplies.

Take your pets with you.

Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance–infants, elderly people and people with disabilities.

Caught Outside Stay upstream, uphill, and upwind! In general, try to go at least one-half mile (usually 8-10 city blocks) from the danger area. Move away from the accident scene and help keep others away.

Do not walk into or touch any spilled liquids, airborne mists, or condensed solid chemical deposits. Try not to inhale gases, fumes and smoke. If possible, cover mouth with a cloth while leaving the area.

Stay away from accident victims until the hazardous material has been identified.

In a motor vehicle Stop and seek shelter in a permanent building. If you must remain in your car, keep car windows and vents closed and shut off the air conditioner and heater.
Requested to stay indoors Bring pets inside.

Close and lock all exterior doors and windows. Close vents, fireplace dampers, and as many interior doors as possible.

Turn off air conditioners and ventilation systems. In large buildings, set ventilation systems to 100 percent recirculation so that no outside air is drawn into the building. If this is not possible, ventilation systems should be turned off.