Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG)

This is an online version of the 2008 Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG) which is produced by the USDOT for first responders during the initial phase of a Dangerous goods/Hazardous Materials incident. Have you ever wondered what those four digit numbers on the placards on the side of trucks and rail cars mean? Our online ERG will give you your answer.




  • Flammable/combustible material.
  • May be ignited by friction, heat, sparks or flames.
  • Some may burn rapidly with flare burning effect.
  • Powders, dusts, shavings, borings, turnings or cuttings may explode or burn with explosive violence.
  • Substance may be transported in a molten form at a temperature that may be above its flash point.
  • May re-ignite after fire is extinguished.


  • Fire may produce irritating and/or toxic gases.
  • Contact may cause burns to skin and eyes.
  • Contact with molten substance may cause severe burns to skin and eyes.
  • Runoff from fire control may cause pollution.


  • CALL Emergency Response Telephone Number on Shipping Paper first. If Shipping Paper not available or no answer, refer to appropriate telephone number listed on the inside back cover.
  • As an immediate precautionary measure, isolate spill or leak area for at least 25 meters (75 feet) in all directions.
  • Keep unauthorized personnel away.
  • Stay upwind.
  • Keep out of low areas.


  • Wear positive pressure self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA).
  • Structural firefighters' protective clothing will only provide limited protection.


Large Spill
  • Consider initial downwind evacuation for at least 100 meters (330 feet).
  • If tank, rail car or tank truck is involved in a fire, ISOLATE for 800 meters (1/2 mile) in all directions; also, consider initial evacuation for 800 meters (1/2 mile) in all directions.



Small Fire
  • Dry chemical, CO2, sand, earth, water spray or regular foam.
Large Fire
  • Water spray, fog or regular foam.
  • Move containers from fire area if you can do it without risk.
Fire Involving Metal Pigments or Pastes (e.g. Aluminum Paste)
  • Aluminum Paste fires should be treated as a combustible metal fire. Use DRY sand, graphite powder, dry sodium chloride based extinguishers, G-1® or Met-L-X® powder. Also, see GUIDE 170.
Fire involving Tanks or Car/Trailer Loads
  • Cool containers with flooding quantities of water until well after fire is out.
  • For massive fire, use unmanned hose holders or monitor nozzles; if this is impossible, withdraw from area and let fire burn.
  • Withdraw immediately in case of rising sound from venting safety devices or discoloration of tank.
  • ALWAYS stay away from tanks engulfed in fire.


  • ELIMINATE all ignition sources (no smoking, flares, sparks or flames in immediate area).
  • Do not touch or walk through spilled material.
Small Dry Spill
  • With clean shovel place material into clean, dry container and cover loosely; move containers from spill area.
Large Spill
  • Wet down with water and dike for later disposal.
  • Prevent entry into waterways, sewers, basements or confined areas.


  • Move victim to fresh air.
  • Call 911 or emergency medical service.
  • Give artificial respiration if victim is not breathing.
  • Administer oxygen if breathing is difficult.
  • Remove and isolate contaminated clothing and shoes.
  • In case of contact with substance, immediately flush skin or eyes with running water for at least 20 minutes.
  • Removal of solidified molten material from skin requires medical assistance.
  • Keep victim warm and quiet.
  • Ensure that medical personnel are aware of the material(s) involved and take precautions to protect themselves.

Data Source for our online 2008 ERG

This information was compiled from the 2008 Emergency Response Guidebook (2008 ERG) which is produced by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

(Data last updated/verified: Oct. 2, 2011)

Related Resources


WARNING: These pages are for general reference and educational purposes only and MUST NOT be relied upon as a sole source to determine regulatory compliance or where matters of life and health are concerned. This site and the author do not warrant or guarantee the accuracy or the sufficiency of the information provided and do not assume any responsibility for its use.

To ensure regulatory compliance when transporting hazardous materials or dangerous goods, one must receive proper training and certification from a qualified instructor and refer to the current year's Code of Federal Regulations Title 49 (49CFR) or your country's shipping regulations. In matters regarding workplace safety, refer to current OSHA regulations (29CFR) and NIOSH guidelines or your own country's health and safety regulations. No one should ever enter into a hazardous environment without proper training from qualified instructors.

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