Transportation of hazardous materials

Many tons of corrosive, explosive, inflammable, radioactive, toxic and oxidizing (that can cause the combustion of another material on contact) materials are transported across Québec on any given day.

Although the transportation of hazardous materials is regulated, accidents can occur if there is a spill, a leak or an explosion.

What to do before

Prepare an emergency kit.

Learn the meanings of the pictograms used to identify hazardous materials This hyperlink will open in a new window., as this will enable you to properly protect yourself. Such pictograms are found on the containers used to store hazardous materials or on the vehicles that are transporting them.

In an emergency or a disaster, you are the first person responsible for your safety (French only) and that of your family, as well as safeguarding your property. In the event of a disaster, however, municipalities are responsible for helping the people affected and for taking the necessary measures.

When a municipality's response capacity is insufficient, the Gouvernement du Québec provides assistance (French only) by deploying government resources to facilitate the return to normal, based on what is provided for in Québec’s national civil protection plan.

What to do during

Move away from the scene of the accident and invite other witnesses to do the same.

Alert emergency services by calling 911.

Avoid smoking near the scene of the accident.

In the event of a spill or leak of a product, avoid all contact with the product in question. If you have been splattered with the product, inform the first responders, even if there are no visible effects.

Depending on the situation, the authorities may ask you to:

  • comply with a shelter-in-place order or an evacuation order.
  • respect a security perimeter.
  • refrain from drinking water or eating certain foods.
  • clean your home or belongings.
  • be alert to the appearance of certain physical symptoms.

Follow your municipality and Urgence Québec social media feeds and consult local media outlets for information about the current situation and steps to be taken.

What to do after

If the authorities allow it and there is no risk to your safety, you can go home. It's best to go during the day, when problems and hazards are easier to see.

Make a list of the damage and take photos or videos as proof. Notify your municipality, insurance company and mortgage lender of the damage. For claim purposes, keep all receipts or proofs of purchase for damaged property.

Verify if your water is potable, that is, if it is safe to drink. If the colour, odour or taste of your drinking water is questionable, contact the municipal authorities before consuming any.

If the power has been off more than six hours, check the quality of food before eating it. Throw out any food that shows signs of deterioration. Consult Power outage and your food This hyperlink will open in a new window. (French only) for information on deciding what to keep and what to throw out from your refrigerator and freezer.

For the same reason, do not take any medications that must be stored in a cool place but were not. Return them to the pharmacy.

Pay attention to your reactions and those of your loved ones after experiencing a disaster:

  • Anxiety, distress or frequent crying
  • Apathy or loss of energy
  • Aggressiveness
  • Difficulty concentrating or confusion
  • Increased alcohol or drug use

Psychosocial support is available to you. Psychosocial intervention professionals are available to support, advise and direct you to resources tailored to your needs or those of your loved ones. Call Info-Social, at 811, and select option 2 to speak with a professional. This service is free and confidential, and it is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

For more information on the possible reactions after a disaster and on ways to help you, see the Getting better following a disaster page.

Last update: December 27, 2019

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