Understanding Chemical Warfare Agent (CWA) Exposure
A chemical warfare attack could come without warning. Signs of chemical warfare agent exposure may include difficulty breathing; eye irritation; loss of coordination; nausea; or a burning sensation in the nose, throat, and lungs. Also, the presence of many dead insects or birds may indicate a CWA release.1
If the Chemical Warfare Agent is Released Indoors
- Locate clean air in any way possible. Leave the building if you can do so without passing through the contaminated area, or break a window to access clean air.
- Undress by removing your outer clothing and placing it in a sealed bag.
- Use large amounts of soap and water to wash your body. Flush skin with lots of water. Flush eyes with water if they are irritated. Use a skin decontaminant if available.
- Dress with clean clothes if available.
- Even if symptoms are not immediately present, seek medical attention if you believe you have been exposed.
If the Chemical Warfare Agent is Released Outdoors
- Avoid any obvious plumes or vapor clouds. After leaving the site of release, shelter-in-place inside a building away from the exposure with family and pets.
- Once inside, lock all doors and close the windows, air vents, and fireplace dampers.
- Turn off any fans, air conditioning, and forced air heating systems.
- Go into a room with as few windows as possible. Seal the room to create a temporary barrier between you and the contaminated air outside.
- Seal all windows, doors, and air vents with plastic sheeting and duct tape.
- Use materials on hand to seal gaps to create a barrier from any contamination.
- Watch TV, listen to the radio, or check the Internet often for official news and instructions as they become available.