A hazardous materials (HazMat) accident can occur anywhere. Hazardous materials are transported daily on our roadways, railways, waterways, and by air. A hazardous material is defined by the U.S. Department of Transportation as "a substance or material which has been determined by the Secretary of Transportation to be capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety, and property when transported for commerce, and which has been so designated."

Any substance that is capable of harming people, animals, plants, or the environment if handled improperly is considered a hazardous material. It is difficult, if not impossible, to detect some hazardous materials. For your safety and the safety of others at an accident scene, you should consider any unknown material to be a hazardous material until it is known not to be.


If you suspect a hazardous materials situation:

  • Look for signs that indicate hazardous materials may be present.
  • Do not walk into, touch, or inhale any material.
  • Stay uphill and upwind from the incident.
  • Request assistance by calling 9-1-1.

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