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.




  • Toxic by ingestion.
  • Vapors may cause dizziness or suffocation.
  • Exposure in an enclosed area may be very harmful.
  • Contact may irritate or burn skin and eyes.
  • Fire may produce irritating and/or toxic gases.
  • Runoff from fire control or dilution water may cause pollution.


  • Some of these materials may burn, but none ignite readily.
  • Most vapors are heavier than air.
  • Air/vapor mixtures may explode when ignited.
  • Container may explode in heat of fire.


  • 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 50 meters (150 feet) in all directions.
  • Keep unauthorized personnel away.
  • Stay upwind.
  • Many gases are heavier than air and will spread along ground and collect in low or confined areas (sewers, basements, tanks).
  • Keep out of low areas.
  • Ventilate closed spaces before entering.


  • Wear positive pressure self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA).
  • Wear chemical protective clothing that is specifically recommended by the manufacturer.
  • 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 or water spray.
Large Fire
  • Dry chemical, CO2, alcohol-resistant foam or water spray.
  • Move containers from fire area if you can do it without risk.
  • Dike fire-control water for later disposal; do not scatter the material.
Fire involving Tanks or Car/Trailer Loads
  • Fight fire from maximum distance or use unmanned hose holders or monitor nozzles.
  • Cool containers with flooding quantities of water until well after fire is out.
  • 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).
  • Stop leak if you can do it without risk.
Small Liquid Spill
  • Take up with sand, earth or other non-combustible absorbent material.
Large Spill
  • Dike far ahead of liquid spill 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.
  • For minor skin contact, avoid spreading material on unaffected skin.
  • Wash skin with soap and water.
  • 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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