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Jefferson County fire chief explains how to stay safe during chemical, gas leak emergencies

Fire Chief Jeremy Hansen said the primary system of alerting residents in case of emergency is the Southeast Texas Alerting Network or STAN.

BEAUMONT, Texas — With three chemical leaks in less than three weeks, people are asking how to stay informed and what can they do to protect themselves.

First, it was the Saturday, Dec. 11 hydrogen sulfide from a tanker at a Nederland business

Then on Wednesday, Dec. 15, a benzene leak from a Port Arthur plant triggered a brief shelter in place.  And Tuesday night, a pipeline leak in the area of LaBelle Road lead to a shelter-in-place order that lasted for nearly 24 hours.

Some people are concerned about how they can protect themselves when they were never alerted of the leak.

"I have children, and I have to consider the well-being of me, myself, and my kids," said Beaumont resident Joanna Freeman.

Freeman said she smelled gas in the air, but she never received an alert about a pipeline leak.

"There would have to be a formal warning. So we would know, because, you know, seeing it on Facebook, it's not acceptable," said Port Neches resident Vickie Smith. 

"The residents of this area that have experienced chemical explosions, the TPC explosion, and now we've got gas leaks. I just feel like there's no one that has our backs," Smith said.

Fire Chief of ESD No. 4 Jeremy Hansen said the primary system of alerting residents in case of emergency is the Southeast Texas Alerting Network or STAN.

"It primarily exists here for the petrochemical hazards that exist and the chemical hazards that exist in this region,” Hansen said.

But registering for STAN isn't a one-and-done deal.

"Even if you've been registered in the past, it's important that you update your registration annually and make sure that you're subscribed to receive the top alerts on your cell phone and/or home phone," Hansen said.

So, what do you do if your area has been issued a shelter in place order?

If you're at home when a shelter-in-place order is issued:

  • Close and lock all windows and exterior doors.
  • Turn off all fans, heating, and air conditioning systems.
  • Cover or close all vents and even the fireplace damper.
  • If possible move to a room without windows.

If you're driving when a shelter in place order is issued:

  • First, see if you can make it home.
  • If not, pull over to the side of the road, turn off your engine, close windows and vents, and listen to the radio or local media for updated advice and instructions.

To register for the Southeast Texas Alerting Network simply go online at TheSTAN.com.

For more information about readiness for any kind of natural disaster, go to texasready.gov.

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