Hazardous Materials Incident

​Hazardous materials are chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or explosive agents that pose risk to life, health and the environment if they are released.

Hazardous material incidents can happen during transportation, production, storage or disposal. A release can be large in scale from tankers and storage tanks to a small spill of chemicals for a backyard pool. 


In the event of a hazardous materials incident, there are two courses of action to take:

  1. Evacuate
  2. Shelter in place


The City may determine the best course of action is to evacuate. In the event of a hazardous materials release, residents will receive minimal notice to evacuate.

How to evacuate

  • Gather all family members, pets and an emergency kit.
  • Leave an evacuation sign (PDF) on the front door or window.
  • Close and lock all windows and doors.
  • Turn off natural gas, electricity and water if directed to do so by authorities.
  • Take one vehicle.
  • Follow the designated evacuation route or directions provided by authorities.
  • Follow instructions by authorities if transportation assistance is required. Authorities will direct residents to the staging area where buses will be available.
  • Do not take shortcuts.
  • Check on elderly and disabled neighbours and provide assistance if it is safe to do so.
  • Go to the emergency shelter and register – it is not necessary to remain at a shelter if alternative accommodations have been arranged.
  • Inform Animal Services at the emergency shelter of any pets left behind.
  • Do not return home until authorities deem the area is safe for re-entry.

Shelter in place

In some cases, it is safer to remain in the home or workplace when a release occurs. Many chemical agents form a vapour cloud or plume when released into the air. This vapour cloud may be toxic or explosive in nature.


The purpose of sheltering in place is to create as many barriers as possible to the outside environment. Here are some tips on sheltering in place:

  • Remain inside.
  • Bring pets indoors.
  • Tune into media and social media for updates and instructions.
  • Close all windows, doors, blinds and curtains.
  • Seal around windows and door cracks with duct tape or packing tape.
  • Shut down fans and air conditioners, and close fireplace dampers.
  • Cover vents with plastic sheeting and duct tape.
  • Get your emergency kit.
  • Go to the highest level of the building to an interior space or room with the fewest openings to the outside.
  • Place wet towels at the base of doors and windows.

Actions to take if outside

  1. If witnessing an incident involving the release of a hazardous substance, get indoors immediately.
  2. Call 911 to report the incident.
  3. Close vents and windows, and shut down air conditioning in the car.
  4. Seek shelter in a solid structure as quickly as possible.
  5. If stuck outdoors, proceed in the opposite direction of the wind and go uphill or the opposite direction of the flow of a water course.
  6. Follow directions provided by the City.
  7. Travel at least one city block (major road to major road) to get away from the danger.
  8. Do not move or drive towards the vapour cloud.
  9. Cover mouth and nose with a dry cloth.

Contact Information

Emergency Planning

Joint Operations Centre
2800 Rutherford Rd.
Vaughan, ON L4K 2N9

Mailing Address

Vaughan City Hall
2141 Major Mackenzie Dr.
Vaughan, ON L6A 1T1