Statistics show that there are more than 150 active volcanoes in the US. When we say “active,” that means it had erupted in the past 10,000 years. Nonetheless, millions of Americans and tourists, live and travel in places that could pose a volcanic disaster. Thus, if you live near an active or dormant volcano, you have to prepare for any unforeseen disasters that might strike anytime. You have to devise a specific game plan on how to prepare for a volcano disaster. Preparedness is the key to keep your family safe.
Volcanic eruptions present various health hazards, with suffocation being the most common reason for volcano-related death. Other health dangers include burns, drinking contaminated water, and other fall-related injuries. Volcanic gases and ash can be particularly life-threatening for people living with respiratory illnesses. Volcano disasters create hazards that can take the lives of people, obstruct air travel, and ruin properties even from many miles away.
Ways To Prepare For a Volcano Disaster
To lessen the threats of living near an active volcano, here are some ways to prepare for a volcanic eruption to ensure your safety and those around you.
Becoming familiar with your community’s alert systems, evacuation procedures, and shelter locations ahead of time are some of the first steps to take to prepare for any volcano-related emergencies. Always be ready to listen and follow instructions from emergency officials. If necessary, have a battery-operated radio handy so that you can stay up-to-date with the latest information from your local authorities.
Next, create a home evacuation plan for your household. Make sure your preparations include a communication plan in case members of your family get separated when an emergency happens. For example, assign an out-of-state friend or relative to be your emergency contact person, as it is sometimes more convenient to call long distances in the wake of a disaster.
Put together a go-bag and make sure it includes all necessary items such as a flashlight, batteries, bottled water, non-perishable food, a two-way radio, a manual can opener, a first aid kit, and essential medicines. Bottled water should be your top priority since volcanic ash can contaminate tap water. Also, make sure to have these items added to your go-bag: goggles, disposable facemasks, and sturdy shoes. Make sure that your go-bags are portable and easy to carry around since you’ll need to bring them with you in case of evacuation.
When your local officials raise warning signals, it’s imperative to listen to and act immediately on instructions. Leaving your home may be a tough decision, but your family’s safety should always come first.
Surviving a Volcano Disaster
The most important thing to remember during a volcano disaster is to always listen to the instructions given by your local emergency officers. If officials gave orders to stay and take shelter at home, take these precautions: close all windows, doors, and ventilation sources immediately. That includes your chimney vents or furnaces. Turn off air conditioning and heating systems and, if possible, move to a windowless room that is above ground level.
To protect yourself from volcanic ash, always stay indoors and put damp towels in between the doors and the ground. In case you need to go outside, wear long sleeves and pants, put on a disposable facemask, and wear goggles. Volcanic ash is particularly harmful to those with a respiratory ailment as well as to young and older people, so to ensure safety, the best decision is to stay inside.
In case the authorities advise for evacuation, follow the set emergency procedures for volcano disasters, and put your emergency plan into operation. Make sure that the entire family understands the instructions and the procedures thoroughly. Have all the necessary items handy and be ready to leave your home immediately. Although it may seem safer to stay at home and wait out the volcanic eruption, if you are situated in a hazard zone, doing so could be very risky.
Safety After an Eruption
If necessary and with caution, clear your roof of ashes, since heavy ashfall can cause collapse, especially when it rains. Try to lend a helping hand to others — reach out to friends or neighbors, especially those who live alone or might need special assistance. If evacuated, only return when the authorities say so. Also, avoid driving in heavy ashfalls after an eruption. However, if there’s a need, try to drive slowly and carefully. And always refer to local authorities for road clearance. Continue listening to any updates from emergency officials even after you have returned home.
You can prepare ahead of time to ensure your family’s safety during an eruption. Planning on how to prepare for volcano disaster can save your life and those around you. Volcanic eruptions can cause great danger and should not be taken lightly. Always listen and follow the advice of your local officials. They will give you specific information on how to prepare for a volcanic eruption and how to evacuate if necessary. If the family is knowledgeable, you can avoid panic and worry, which can eventually cause more harm than good.
Disasters can happen anytime. Although volcanic eruptions can somehow be predictable nowadays, you really can’t tell the exact time and date of eruptions. However, if you have a strategic plan on how to prepare for a volcano disaster, your odds of living will be higher. So take the time to sit down with your family and discuss your plans for all kinds of emergency situations. Find out more about emergency plans.