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Chemical spills can be dangerous for anyone, no matter how minor they are. The first thing you should do if you come across a chemical spill is assess the danger and how it’s going to affect you and other people. If the spill is major and is going to put people in immediate danger then you should evacuate the area and alert emergency services. If the spill is not serious you should tell anyone that is in the immediate area and isolate the spill in whatever way you can.

You should immediately see to anyone who has been hurt by the spill; any clothes that have been in contact with the chemicals should be removed and any burns should have a constant flow of water poured over them for at least fifteen minutes.

Make sure you contact emergency services straight away if the spill is too big to be tackled by you; also contact them if people have been in contact with the chemical or someone is seriously hurt. If it’s a small scale spill, find a spill kit and surround the spillage with absorbent materials – make sure anyone who is dealing with the spillage has all of the appropriate materials and protective gear.

Contain the spill in a small area; neutralise acid and base chemicals and start to surround the spill with absorbent materials and gradually move towards the centre.

Once the spillage has been absorbed, place the soaked materials in the correct containers and arrange for a safety team to come and pick them up. After this, make sure you clean the area thoroughly with detergent.

Chemical spills don’t only happen in the working environment though; they can happen in your home and although most of the time they’re not harmful in any way sometimes they can be so it’s essential that you know how to deal with it.

Although the term ‘chemical spill’ sounds particularly dangerous, when it’s in your home it could just mean the spillage of a cleaning product. The first thing you should do is alert any occupants if they are in danger. For example if the spillage involves something other than a cleaning product and could be giving off toxic fumes then you should tell the home owner and completely ventilate the house, i.e. open every window.

If you spill chemicals on your skin or clothes – even if it’s just a cleaning product – then you should wash the area and clothes immediately as even the most harmless of spills can be irritable to the skin.
If you face a chemical spill in your home there are the obvious things that you should do such as not touching any dangerous chemicals so to always wear gloves etc. Also to avoid any harm coming to you or others, read the label and what it says you should do if a spillage was to occur. Anyone who may have come into contact with the chemicals should be monitored afterwards for any symptoms of chemical burns. If they should complain of difficulty breathing, irritated eyes or skin, changes in skin colour, sickness or dizziness or any other unusual symptoms then you should seek medical attention.

The author of this article, Jamie Trotter, is a chemical safety officer and recommends oil spill kits supplied by