Hazardous Material

Aka Dangerous Goods

Hazardous material spills can occur on land or in the water, and can include things such as chemicals, radiation, biohazard materials, oil and gas, propane, flammable materials, industrial products and mixed waste. These can all be harmful to people, other living organisms, property, and the environment.

There are often special instructions and regulations for transporting and using these materials. Occasionally, accidents or poor planning result in these dangerous goods being exposed to the surrounding environment and immediate response is required.

If you become aware of a hazardous material spill in your area, follow the direction of emergency responders. A common instruction is to shelter-in-place, which means to remain indoors and reduce the amount of airflow into and out of a building until the risk has passed. Alternatively, you may be requested to evacuate the area. These decisions are made in the interest of safety. Do not ignore these instructions when given by emergency officials.

You may be notified by officials or volunteers going door-to-door, by siren and loud speaker, or by automated phone call. Other sources of information include the Maple Ridge Twitter, Facebook, local media sources and Notify Me.

How to Prepare

During a Hazardous Material Emergency

  • Limit exposure and stay well away from the affected area.
  • Monitor the local media and have flashlights on hand in case the power goes out.
  • Listen to and obey instructions from emergency officials.
  • Avoid using designated Disaster Response Routes as these are for emergency responders only.
  • Close all windows, shut vents and turn off fans (air exchange units) to avoid contamination inside your home.
  • Be prepared to evacuate.

After a Hazardous Material Emergency

  • Return home only when authorized by local authorities. Ventilate your home well by opening doors and windows and circulate air.
  • Follow instructions from emergency officials if you feel that you have come into contact with a hazardous material. You may be given instructions to decontaminate, or to seek medical treatment if certain symptoms are present.
  • Isolate any contaminated clothing items by placing them in a tightly sealed container.
  • Report any residual vapours or chemicals to 9-1-1.


Sometimes an accident may cause a hazardous material to enter the air. Unless the hazardous material is flammable, emergency response professionals may recommend that you stay indoors until you receive instructions to leave. Once you are inside, there are several things you can do to help your building protect you. Learn more about Shelter-in-Place.

Environmental Emergency Program

B.C.'s Environmental Emergency Program is responsible for responding to spills of hazardous materials and harmful substances. The program develops and implements tools to prevent, prepare for and respond to oil spills, chemical spills and spills of any substance (e.g. salt, canola oil) that could disturb or harm the natural environment.

Evacuation Stages

  • Evacuation Order:

    You are at risk. Leave the area immediately. Local police or RCMP enforce evacuation orders.
  • Evacuation Alert:

    Be ready to leave on short notice. If you leave before or during this alert, it’s called a voluntary evacuation.
  • Evacuation Rescinded:

    All is currently safe and you can return home. Stay tuned for other possible evacuation alerts or orders.