Chemicals have been produced, stored, transported, and used in the Midland area for over 100 years. Each day they are handled safely in our community. Even so, there is the potential for a chemical accident to occur, so it makes good sense to have an emergency plan.
Notification of a Chemical Emergency
When a chemical release occurs that could harm the community the outdoor warning siren system is activated. This warning system covers Midland, Midland Township, northern sections of Ingersoll Township and areas near Midland in Williams and Tittabawassee Townships. The wail of the sirens are your signal to move indoors and seek emergency information and instructions. In areas of Midland County where there are no outdoor warning sirens, notification is made through local radio and television, Nixle, and by door-to-door contact from Deputy Sheriffs, fire department personnel, and emergency management volunteers. In some cases, public address systems on emergency response vehicles may be utilized for notification. Emergency broadcasts on radio and television will describe the type of emergency and instruct you of the appropriate action to take.
When a Chemical Emergency Occurs
In the event of a chemical release, highly trained teams respond to the source of the emergency with the goal of stopping the release in a safe and timely manner. Emergency Operations Center staff members work to assess the situation and keep the public informed with emergency instructions and information. You should do the following as appropriate.
- If you're not in the area affected by the chemical release, stay away from it.
- If you are in the affected area or downwind from it, shelter-in-place. Even poorly sealed buildings provide protection. If you are outside, gather your family and pets together and go indoors or get into your automobile. Once inside, close all windows and doors; turn off pilot lights; and shut down all ventilation equipment such as heating and air conditioning units and put out fireplace fires and close dampers.
- In planning for an emergency, locate and identify shutoff switches for heating and ventilating equipment.
- Stay inside unless asked by local authorities to do otherwise. Remain tuned to local radio or television and wait for the "All Clear" announcement. Nixle and Facebook will also be used to provide alerts and updated information.
- If fumes appear to be entering the building and you feel you are in danger, a wet cloth or towel over your nose and mouth will act as a filter and offer some protection.
- If you are outside and can't possibly get indoors, move cross-wind (so the wind is blowing on the side of your face). This offers the best advantage for getting out of the path of the chemical release and into a safe area.
- When the all clear is given move outdoors and stay outdoors for 15 to 30 minutes. In addition, open all windows and doors, and start up heating and ventilation systems to aid in removing any contaminated air that may have entered during the emergency.
- Remember, when you are alerted of a chemical emergency the first step is always to go indoors. If local authorities determine that an evacuation is necessary they will provide you with instructions via radio, television and the Internet, but until you receive those instructions stay indoors. Don’t go outside or open doors and windows until you are told it is safe to do so.
- Do not call 9-1-1 to get information. 9-1-1 lines must be kept open for citizens to report police, fire or medical emergencies. You can call 1-888-TELL-MORE throughout the duration of the emergency to receive updated information.
A Note About Schools
Local schools have plans for sheltering-in-place during a chemical emergency. A school building with doors and windows closed and the HVAC system shut down is a safer place for students than outdoors where they may be exposed to a chemical. Talk to school officials about their emergency plans and familiarize yourself with them.