What are Dangerous Goods?

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Also known as hazardous goods, it is important to understand what constitutes dangerous goods if you are planning on shipping items overseas so that you don’t create any unnecessary hazards to yourself or the shipping crew.  Not understanding what is possible can mean serious delays.
In general, anything that is considered explosive, flammable, poisonous or corrosive in some way is considered dangerous goods and must be labeled.  In some instances, the cargo may be considered dangerous because it is also possibly polluting to the marine environment.  Explosives and gasses or flammable liquids naturally make the list.  Items subject to spontaneous combustion or oxidizing substances, radioactive materials, toxic and infectious substances also make the list.  Other miscellaneous items may be on the dangerous goods list without being intuitively obvious that they pose a threat.
Batteries, computer parts, cigarette lighters, drilling and mining equipment and other machinery parts and even frozen foods are some of the items considered for one reason or another to be potentially hazardous.  Sometimes the hazard is not the item itself, but the way in which the item is packed that could potentially set off an explosion.
Taking safety seriously is everyone’s job.  When mistakes happen, they can have deadly consequences.  Serious accidents happen all the time, the most recent case happening in China where hundreds were killed and more missing in a massive explosion at a logistics warehouse storing dangerous goods.  Even the rescue efforts were hampered when everyone realized they had no idea the full extent of the dangerous goods in the warehouse.

It is important to take seriously what you might consider simple and inconvenient requirements when shipping your goods – such as making sure the gasoline is drained from your vehicle and the battery disconnected.  Understanding how to properly label and declare any dangerous goods ensures they will be handled with the utmost care.  Miscommunication or misdeclaration can result in serious problems and delays.