When faced with an explosion, it can be frightening and chaotic. However, if you are aware of some simple steps which could help to keep you safe, it will help you to react quickly and appropriately. Explosions can happen without any warning and therefore it is in your best interest to consider how you could respond.
The UK's Health and Safety Executive have acknowledged that some workplace environments present a greater risk of potential explosions due to the dangerous substances and explosive atmosphere present in the workplace. Therefore, the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmosphere Regulations (DSEAR) 2002 establish what employers must do to prepare for potential fire and explosion risks in the workplace.
According to DSEAR, an explosive atmosphere involves a mixture of dangerous substances with the air, which can potentially catch fire or explode. If this reaction occurs within a confined space, such as a plant, the rapid spread of flames or rise in pressure can create an explosion. Therefore, it is important for those who work in explosive atmospheres to understand how to act if an explosion does occur, as well as ordinary people who might encounter an explosion when simply walking down the street.
How to protect yourself during an explosion
Explosions offer us little to no warning and therefore it is hard to fully prepare for an explosion and how it will impact you, physically and mentally. However, you can make yourself aware of certain steps which could be used to keep you as safe as possible:
- Try to find some shelter and security if rubble is falling around you, such as a sitting beneath a sturdy table.
- If there is a fog of smoke emerging, remain close to the floor.
- Move away from doors, windows, or anything which could potentially blast open.
- If you are trapped beneath rubble, try to bang on anything close by to you, or use a light from your phone to grab attention. As a last resort, call for help.
- Do not use elevators as an exit strategy.
Keep an emergency kit near you
Although you cannot anticipate when an explosion will occur, if you have an emergency kit nearby, it could help you to aid yourself and those around you before medical help arrives. This emergency kit could be stored in your car or in your house, and could include:
- First aid kit with essentials, such as bandages, sterilising wipes and eye patches.
- Non-perishable food
- Battery-powered radio
- Spare money
In November 2019, a series of explosions took place at Port Neches, a chemical plant in Texas, which resulted in 60,000 being evacuated from their homes. TPC Group is a chemical plant which makes products for chemical and petroleum companies, and therefore deals with dangerous substances. The organised evacuation of those living nearby was done to mitigate the risks that this explosion could have had on their health. The initial reports which followed the explosion stated that it was unknown why the explosion took place, but three employees were injured as a result of the explosions.
Explosions can be daunting and frightening, and therefore knowing how to respond in order to remain safe is important.