Most modern chemical weapons are fast-acting, sometimes nearly invisible to the naked eye, and can be deadly. If you are directly in the dispersion area of a chemical weapons attack or chemical spill, you may have few options to survive; your best option is always to get away from the site of the attack or spill as quickly as possible.
Defining chemical weapons threats
- Chemical agents include poisonous gases, liquids, and solids
- Not all chemical threats are weapons; chemical spill can have similar effects
- Colored residues, dead plant life, sharp odors, or dead animals and insects are markers
- Chemical exposure is characterized by easily observed, rapid onset of symptoms,
- If you’re exposed Immediately seek shelter; once inside – try to decontaminate yourself
- Without proper training and equipment, there is little the layman can do to assist others
How to decontaminate yourself after chemical weapons exposure
- Minimize your handling of affected clothing; wear plastic/latex gloves if you have them.
- Cut off and dispose of all clothing. Don’t pull any clothing over your head
- Dispose of affected clothing and the gloves in a plastic garbage bag and seal it
- Use (paper towel, towel, rag) – anything but your contaminated bare hands to enter the bathroom – avoid spreading the contaminant in the room
- Wash yourself thoroughly in a long, hot shower with lots of soap
- After your shower, do not touch the contaminated garbage bag with bare hands nor let the contaminated bag touch your bare body.
- Using a new pair of latex gloves place the first bag into a second plastic bag and seal that one, too. Mark or tag the bag as contaminated
- Wash/sanitize your gloved hands, then remove the gloves without contaminating yourself again
- Decontaminate your bare hands
- Remove and discard contact lenses only AFTER you shower/decontaminate and wash your hands
- If your eyes are burning, rinse them with clear water for 10 to 15 minutes; if you have bottled, distilled water, use that for rinsing
- Put on fresh, uncontaminated clothes and seek help
- Document your best description of the exposure on paper
- Know you may suffer further symptom over the next 18 to 24 hours