# When Unexpected Chemical Exposure Happens: Steps to Take

As a Black person, it can be hard enough to navigate the world in which we live in without having to add the threat of unexpected chemical exposure. Unfortunately, situations like this do happen, and it’s important to know what to do in the event that it happens to you.

A recent news story reported a passenger on a Chicago train getting doused with chemicals. The image of that incident is striking, and the aftermath for the victim was sure to be nothing short of traumatizing. Whether it be on a train, at your job, or in your daily life, being prepared for the unexpected can be lifesaving. Here are some steps to take in the event of unexpected chemical exposure.

## Step 1: Identify the Chemical

One of the first things to do in the event of unexpected chemical exposure is to identify the chemical that you’ve been exposed to. This will help healthcare professionals provide the proper treatment. Some chemicals, like bleach or ammonia, can cause immediate symptoms such as irritation, burning, or coughing. Others, like lead, can cause long-term exposure symptoms like memory loss or anemia.

## Step 2: Remove Contaminated Clothing

After you’ve identified the chemical, the next step is to remove any contaminated clothing. If you’re at work, report the incident to your supervisor and make sure to follow the protocol for handling contaminated items. It’s essential to not touch your face or any other parts of your body while removing the contaminated clothing as doing so could further spread the chemical.

## Step 3: Rinse with Water

Once your clothing has been removed, it’s essential to rinse off any remaining chemicals with water. Taking a shower or bath can be beneficial, but if you don’t have access to water, splashing clean water over the affected areas of your skin is better than nothing. Avoid using hot water as this could open up your pores and potentially worsen skin absorption.

## Step 4: Seek Medical Attention

If your symptoms persist or worsen, it’s important to seek medical attention right away. Some chemicals can cause severe health complications, so early intervention can help prevent long-term effects. Make sure to inform the healthcare professional of the chemical that you’ve been exposed to as that information can help guide the treatment plan.

# Preparing for Unexpected Chemical Exposure

While knowing what to do in the event of unexpected chemical exposure is essential, it’s also important to prepare for such situations. Here are some proactive steps to take to help protect yourself in the event of an unexpected chemical exposure.

## Step 1: Learn About Potential Chemical Hazards

It’s essential to know the types of chemicals that you’re likely to be exposed to in your daily life, especially if you work in an industry that requires chemical use. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides guidelines and regulations for chemical use and handling.

## Step 2: Wear Protective Clothing

Proper protective clothing, such as gloves, face masks, and goggles, can help protect you from being exposed to chemicals. It’s important to know the type of protective clothing that’s needed for the specific chemical you’re working with, as some chemicals may require more extensive protection.

## Step 3: Know Emergency Procedures

In industries that use chemicals, emergency procedures are put in place in case of a chemical spill or other unexpected chemical exposure events. It’s essential to know the emergency procedures so that you can act quickly and appropriately in case of an emergency.

## Step 4: Be Prepared at Home

While unexpected chemical exposure at home might seem less likely, it’s still important to be prepared. Consider keeping an emergency kit that contains items such as a face mask, eye goggles, gloves, and a first-aid kit. Make sure to store any chemicals safely as well, to help prevent accidental exposure.

# Conclusion

Understanding what to do in the event of unexpected chemical exposure and proactively preparing for such situations is essential to protect yourself from any negative long-term effects. Whether it be on a Chicago train or in your daily life, being knowledgeable and proactive can save your life.

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