An August 12th collision of two tractor-trailers on the New Jersey Turnpike near Exit 9 ignited a shipment of acetylene and propane, setting off explosions and sending plumes of thick, black smoke into the air. Lanes were closed in both directions for hours as hazardous material units attempted to contain the fire. This incident raises the issue of what to do if you are ever in traffic when such an accident occurs.

Here is a brief list of steps you can take to keep yourself safe:

  • Notify authorities. If you have a cellphone, call 911 immediately and explain that there is a HazMat emergency.
  • Close all car windows and seal the vents. You don’t want smoke or vapors from outside getting into your car. Do this even if you are upwind.
  • Leave the accident area. No matter how valuable you think your observations about the accident may be, you should not wait for the police to arrive. You can always check in later with your statement. Your first concern must be to keep yourself and your passengers safe.
  • If you cannot get your car out of traffic, keep the car sealed and wait.
  • Follow instructions from the responders.

After you leave the scene of the accident:

  • Remove your clothing and wash it thoroughly.
  • Take a cool shower and wash your skin and hair thoroughly.
  • Wash your car. Contaminants can remain on the surface of your vehicle and once again get on your skin.

Contact with hazardous materials can produce serious injuries to the eyes, nose, throat, lungs and skin. If you are exposed due to some person’s negligence, you can collect compensation for the harm you suffer. To learn about your rights in a HazMat accident, speak to a New Jersey personal injury lawyer at Brown, Novick & McKinley. To schedule a free consultation, call us at 856-845-7898  or contact us online.