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Indiana Department of Homeland Security

IDHS > About IDHS > Get Prepared > Family & Personal Preparedness > Be Informed > Chemical Threats Chemical Threats

Chemical attacks are deliberate releases of toxic solids, liquids or gases. These are very harmful not only to people, but the environment as well. If exposed to a chemical attack, contact your local emergency personnel immediately.

Things to Know:

Chemical Weapons: Are man-made and come in a liquid or gas form. They affect a person's nervous system, blood, skin, or lungs. They cause blistering, inability to breathe, vomiting, loss of bodily control, and possibly death.

Chemical Agents: Are hazardous chemicals that can be used as a weapon. They can have serious effects on people who are exposed. Examples are bombs, aerosol devices, or even crop-dusting airplanes.


Common symptoms of exposure to chemical weapons include:

  • Watery eyes
  • Twitching
  • Choking
  • Breathing problems 
  • Loss of coordination

What to do:

  • Find clean air.
  • Do NOT be downwind of the contamination.
  • Move as far away as possible from the contamination.
  • Remove clothing by cutting it off. Do NOT pull contaminated clothing over your head. Then put into a plastic bags and put it far away from other persons.
  • Decontaminate by taking a shower with lots of soap and water. Be sure to NOT scrub the chemical into your skin. You want to wash it off of you instead.
  • If you are stuck in a building and can't get out without going past the chemical agent/material, find clean air or start to barricade yourself as far away as possible.  Contact authorities as soon as possible.