Imagine being woken up early in the morning by a phone call from emergency personnel. You are told there was a chemical spill, to stay inside, and close yourself off from outside air.
In the cold darkness of an early morning in mid-December, that’s exactly what happened in Middle Tennessee as a tractor trailer collision led to a full-on hazmat situation.
Two semi-trucks collided heading westbound on I-24 near the Buchanan area of Rutherford County, South of Nashville. One contained sugar, while the other carried much more hazardous cargo: pool chlorine tablets and chemicals.
The tractor trailer containing the tablets caught on fire in the collision. Chlorine tablets alone are not flammable but do emit noxious fumes. The chemical also reacts heavily with water. Firefighters sprayed water on the accident in an attempt to put out the fire, causing a chemical reaction. The chlorine gas was released into the surrounding area along with considerable amounts of smoke.
Close to 4 a.m., families were told to seek safety within the building they already occupied, known as “shelter in place”, closing themselves off from outside air and the consequent fumes.
A formal evacuation order was announced two hours later, forcing around 450 people to leave the area. Six hours after evacuation, residents of about 150 homes were allowed back into the neighborhood. Instead of getting ready for work or school, these families were confused, scared and displaced from their homes for half of the day.
While we hope you never are in the middle of a hazmat situation such as this one, it is important for you to have a plan in case of unforeseen disasters.
How To Stay Safe In An Emergency
During a chemical spill, emergency personnel do their best to determine the optimum procedure. If you are told to “shelter in place,” you are supposed to shelter in the building you are in or closest to and shut yourself off from all outside air.
How to Shelter Where You Are
- If you are not already inside your home or work building, go inside immediately
- Close and lock all windows, doors and air vents
- Turn off all heating and cooling units, fans, clothes dryers and extinguish any fireplaces
- Enter an interior room, above ground floor if possible, and seal any doors using towels or tape
- Turn on a radio, television or use the internet for further emergency instructions
- Charge your phone and stay off phone lines as possible to allow for responders to use them
If you have been instructed to “shelter in place” do not decide to evacuate until told to do so by emergency personnel.
Once an evacuation protocol is announced, you must evacuate the area.
In case of a terrible scenario such as this one, it is very important to listen to all directions given by emergency personnel. The goal is to keep you and your family safe and avoid contamination from the toxic plume.
In the event of dangerous chemicals in the atmosphere, emergency personnel will try to keep families in their homes if possible.
Unfortunately, in order to lessen contact with toxic air, sometimes evacuation is the only option.
If you do have to be evacuated, here are some important things for you to know:
- Have your radio or television on to listen to all instructions and new information before moving from your shelter
- Grab your family safety kit or quickly prepare essentials for your family for a couple of days
- Family safety kits should be prepared in advance for the possibility of an emergency.
- Turn off ventilation systems, lights and appliances. Lock windows and doors behind you as you leave to prevent contamination while you are gone
- Proceed calmly, obey all traffic laws, drive carefully and do not block traffic
- Stay away from the emergency scene
- Report to the designated evacuation center, even if you do not plan to stay there
- Always have a backup plan and a predetermined meeting point in case your family gets separated
If you want to prepare for an emergency with a family safety kit, there are some important items for you to have. First aid supplies, flash lights, batteries, a battery powered radio, non-perishable food, water bottles, and duct tape are all valuable components of your emergency kit.
Health Concerns from Toxic Air Pollutants
We all understand that accidents, especially with vehicles as large as tractor trailers, are bound to happen.
It can still be very difficult to cope with the stress, anxiety and medical bills of having chronic health problems due to an accident out of your control. Some of the very serious health problems caused by chemical exposure include cancer, nervous system damage, respiratory conditions and skin rashes.
Drivers near the incident were affected just as much as the families living in the Buchanan Estates area. Everyone who was driving through the region at the time had immediate exposure to the toxic plume.
Drivers were warned not to exit their cars for any reason. Even while following every precaution possible, gas could still seep into the car.
These drivers had an even more difficult time trying to avoid contact with the hazardous cloud than neighboring residential areas.
Dealing With The Aftereffects of a Hazmat Situation
No information was released about exactly why this accident occurred, but something went very wrong that morning in Tennessee.
This can be a very scary situation. It is hard to know what to do to keep you and your family safe from the toxin.
Around 450 people and many drivers were affected by this troublesome incident.
Many innocent people are affected by incidents such as this one. If you have been affected by this or similar circumstances, the law is on your side. We want to serve you and get the help that you deserve.
I understand the difficulties that dire incidents such as this one can cause. I am here to fight for you and help you get the compensation you deserve. I also want to lessen the possibility of these terrible accidents in the future.
Contact our firm today and let us fight for you.
“Fighting for your rights” Contact David Weissman and the law firm of Raybin & Weissman for a confidential consultation of your case today at 615-256-6666.