Chemical agents are vapors, aerosols, liquids and solids that are poisonous to people, animals or plants. They can have an immediate effect (a few seconds to a few minutes) or a delayed effect (2 to 48 hours). While potentially lethal, chemical agents are difficult to deliver in lethal concentrations. Outdoors, chemical agents often dissipate rapidly.
A chemical attack can happen without warning. Signs of a chemical release include people having difficulty breathing; experiencing eye irritation; losing coordination; becoming nauseated; or having a burning sensation in the nose, throat and lungs. Also, the presence of many dead insects or birds may indicate a chemical agent release.
If you are instructed to remain in your home or office building, you should:
If you are caught in or near a contaminated area, you should:
Do not leave the safety of a shelter to go outdoors to help others until authorities announce it is safe to do so. Decontamination is needed within minutes of exposure to minimize negative health effects. A person affected by a chemical agent requires immediate medical attention. If medical help is not immediately available, decontaminate yourself and assist in decontaminating others.