Unfortunately, volcanic eruptions cannot be prevented. However, as a volcano becomes active, it gives off a number of warning signs. These warning signs are picked up by volcanologists, the volcano is monitored, and recommended actions are given to people in the immediate area.
Actions Before: Determine Risk, Increase Knowledge, Safeguard, Plan
General All-Hazard Actions:
- Determine the disaster risks in your locale and the hazards that accompany them.
- Increase your knowledge about the emergency warning signals and alert notifications used in your community.
- Instruct family members how to shut off water, gas and electricity to your house.
- Make the necessary property preparations to reduce the damage from the hazard.
- Acquire a backup generator in case of a prolonged power failure.
- Check into insurance (property, health, life, and hazard type).
- Make the necessary financial arrangements in case of a sudden evacuation and power outage that shuts down local ATMs and banks.
- Organize important documents and records and store them in a portable lock box or safe-deposit box.
- Perform home inventory video taping and store tape in a portable lock box or safe-deposit box.
- Develop an Emergency Communication Plan with evacuation plan and ask an out-of-state person to serve as the "family contact".
- Assemble a shelter-in-place Emergency Supplies Kit.
- Assemble a mobile Emergency Supplies Kit that can serve as a “grab and go” bag?
- Get a family member trained in first aid and CPR.
- Make the necessary preparations and arrangements for pets, seniors, and the disabled.
- Familiarize yourself with the emergency plans of your family member's employment building, school, day care center, or nursing home.
Hazard Specific Actions:
- Identify the hazards and community warning systems associated with volcanic eruptions: earthquakes, tephra, volcanic gases, lava flows, debris avalanches, landslides, and tsunamis, floods, pyroclastic flows, and lahars.
- Have a shelter in-place and a mobile disaster supplies kit ready.
- Make evacuation plans to higher ground with a backup route.
- Get a pair of goggles and a throw-away breathing mask for each member of the household.
Actions During: Safety Basics, Evacuation, Shelter in Place
- Follow evacuation order issued by authorities.
- Avoid areas downwind of the volcano.
- Close all windows, doors, and dampers.
- Put all machinery inside a garage or barn.
- Bring animals and livestock into closed shelters.
- Seek shelter immediately.
- If caught in a rockfall, roll into a ball to protect head.
- Avoid low-lying areas where poisonous gases can collect and floods can be dangerous.
- If caught near a stream beware of mudflows.
- Wear long sleeved shirts and pants.
- Use goggles to protect eyes and a dust-mask or damp cloth over face to help breathing
- Keep car engines turned off.
- Stay out of the area.
- Mudflows can occur when rain falls through ash- carrying clouds or when rivers are dammed during an eruption and are most dangerous close to stream channels; if on a bridge and notice a mudflow upstream, DO NOT cross the bridge - the mudflow can destroy a bridge quickly.
Actions After: Get Disaster Relief, Clean-up, Salvage
- Listen to radio for emergency information.
- Stay away from ashfall.
- Cover mouth and nose to protect from inhaling ash and wear goggles to protect eyes.
- Keep skin covered to avoid irritation or burns.
- Avoid contact with any amount of ash if you have a respiratory ailment.
- Avoid driving in heavy ashfall (it may clog engines and stall vehicles).
- Clear roofs of ashfall (could cause buildings to collapse).
- Help neighbors who may require special assistance.
- American Red Cross, CDC – Emergency Preparedness and Response, FEMA – Are You Ready? Guide, Ready.gov, Be a Force of Nature with NOAA’s Weather Ready Nation, National Weather Service Weather Safety
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