Volcano Emergency Preparedness Tips
Volcanos can have catastrophic effects and are an area of emergency preparedness that we should all be aware of. Although this subject may seem more relevant to those that live close to active volcanos. Being aware of the effects volcanos can have and what volcano emergency preparedness steps you can take is important. Even if you don’t live close to an active volcano, you may holiday in a place that has an active volcano.
As I write there is one particular volcano that is in the news at the moment. This is Indonesia’s Mount Agung in Bali where the authorities have issued the highest possible emergency warning level. The airport was closed for 24 hours because of an ash cloud that reached a height of 9,100 meters.
This has also caused many people to leave their homes. The last time Mount Agung erupted was in 1963 when lava flowed for 7km from the crater. Spewing deadly waves of superheated gas containing gas, ash, and rock that can travel hundreds of kilometers an hour. Speculation now surrounds whether or not the volcano will erupt and what will happen if it does.
The rest of this article discusses volcanos and what you can do before, during and after a volcano erupts.
Different Types Of Volcano
There are four kinds of volcanoes:
A dormant volcano is an active volcano that is not erupting but is expected to erupt again.
Active volcanoes have had at least one eruption during the past 10,000 years. An active volcano might be erupting or dormant.
Erupting volcanoes are active volcanoes that are erupting.
An extinct volcano has not erupted for at least 10,000 years. It also isn’t expected to erupt again in a comparable time scale of the future.
The majority of volcanoes around the world are located around the Pacific Ocean. These volcanoes are known as known as the Pacific Ring of Fire. Countries like Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan and New Zealand are known to have the most destructive volcanoes.
Understanding Volcanic Eruptions
Erupting volcanoes can have extremely destructive effects causing loss of properties and many fatalities. Often volcanic eruptions are also accompanied by earthquakes, making the disaster even more catastrophic.
Mudflows can also occur if there is a lot of rainfall around the eruption. These mudflows can contain pre-volcanic eruption debris which is extremely hot and could cause severe burns.
Volcanic Eruption Early Warning
Fortunately, volcanic eruptions rarely happen instantly because it normally takes some time before a volcano is able to accumulate enough lava that would trigger an eruption.
Volcanologists and seismologists are constantly monitoring dormant volcanoes for indicators that an eruption could take place. So they are usually able to warn people days or even months before the eruption of a volcano.
Here are some volcano emergency preparedness safety tips covering before during and after a volcano erupts.
Before An Eruption
If you live or are traveling to an area that has an active volcano. Create and carry a basic emergency kit that consists of at least:
- Flashlight with spare batteries
- Emergency food and water.
- Battery or hand-crank radio.
- Face mask, ideally an N-95 respirator.
- First aid supplies.
If you have pets prepare a pet emergency kit that should ideally include:
- Sturdy leashes and or pet carriers to transport pets safely and make sure that they can’t escape.
- Food, drinking water, bowls.
- Pet medications.
- Copies of pet medical records stored in a waterproof container.
Plan evacuation routes in advance so that you know what to do if you have to leave quickly.
Using gas masks will help to prevent breathing in the sulfur that’s released into the air by the volcanic eruption.
Remember to keep a good level of fuel in your car, however, bear in mind that volcanic ash can damage engines parts. So if you have no other option but to drive stay below 35 miles (56 kilometers) an hour.
Sudden rains, especially at the crater of the volcano, would lead to an instant mudflow. Mudflows should be avoided whilst they may look normal they contain pre-volcanic eruption debris. Which can reach dangerous temperatures that could cause you to suffer severe burns.
During An Eruption
It is likely that the authorities will recommend that you evacuate before the eruption happens. When a warning is issued it will usually offer guidance on when and where you should evacuate.
Follow the recommendations given by the authorities and remember to stay clear of lava, mudflows and flying rocks and debris.
Continue to listen to local news and emergency broadcasts for updated information and instructions.
If you have received no evacuation recommendations and feel you are in immediate danger, evacuate at once.
Before evacuating try to change into long-sleeved shirts and long pants and wear goggles or eyeglasses, not contacts. Wear an emergency mask or hold a damp cloth over your face.
Collect your grab and go emergency kit and get as far away as you can. For example, the evacuation guideline issued for the volcano in Bali was to get at least 10 kilometers away from the source. Avoid river areas and low-lying regions.
There could be occasions when the authorities recommend you shelter in place. If you are not evacuating, close windows and doors and block air vents or other sources to prevent ash from getting into the property.
After An Eruption
If you evacuated wait for the authorities to recommend when you can safely return to your home.
Continue listening to local news and emergency broadcasts for updated information and instructions.
Let your family and friends know you’re safe.
If anyone is injured, carry out the CHECK, CALL, CARE approach.
CHECK the scene to be sure it’s safe for you to approach.
CALL for help.
CARE, if you are trained, give first aid to those in need until emergency responders can arrive.
Volcano Emergency Preparedness Conclusion
Volcanoes are one of mother natures most destructive disasters. If you live or are traveling to an area nearby an active volcano. Make an emergency plan and take precautionary measures. Below there are a number of useful links to sites such as the red cross, cdc and national geographic. Which offer further information to help you with your volcano emergency preparedness.
Research Credits and Recommended Reading