Volcano: Necessary Citizen Response
Volcanoes are destructive geographical phenomena, but there are many things you can do to ensure your own and your family’s safety. As always, your local officials will be able to provide you with more specific information should you be in danger of an eruption.
It is important to remember that the most common cause of death from an eruption is suffocation from an ash fall. What you do before, during and after an ash fall can be crucial to you and your children’s wellbeing.
Before an Ash Fall
At home, you should keep extra dust masks, non-perishable food, drinking water, plastic wrap to protect electronics, first aid kid, battery-operated radio, flashlights, extra batteries, and cleaning supplies to get rid of ash. Finally, share the information from this website with your family.
In your car, you should keep extra dust masks, blankets, emergency food and drinking water, waterproof tarp, heavy tow- rope, a first aid kit, flashlight, fire extinguisher, flares and matches.
During an Ash Fall
In your home, close all doors and windows and place damp towels at door thresholds, dampen ash in yard and streets to mitigate re-suspension, put stoppers in the tops of drainpipes, constantly sweep or shovel ash from roofs and gutters (roofs generally cannot support more than four inches of wet ash), remove outdoor clothing before entering building, listen to a battery operated radio to receive information.
As for your car, avoid driving as ash can harm your vehicle. If you must drive, do so slowly and use low beam headlights and sufficient windshield washer fluid. Change oil, oil filters, and air filters frequently and do not drive without an air filter.
After an Ash Fall
After an ash fall, continue the clean up procedures. Driving will re-suspend ash, so avoid driving and other activities that do. Continue wearing a dust mask while removing as much as ash as you can, but remember that wet ash can be slippery. Finally, consult your public officials about community cleanup.
Even though ashes are the most likely danger to you during a volcanic eruption, remember that volcanic eruptions can also cause mudflows, gas release, and even substantial lava flows. Keep your radio and evacuate if instructed to do so by a public official. You should bring dust masks and goggles in case of an ash fall. If your eyes, nose, and throat become irritated from volcanic gases, move away from the area and your symptoms should go away. If symptoms persist, consult your doctor.