Posted by: prepare4 | March 25, 2009

Prepare for a Volcanic Explosion

Before a Volcano Erupts:

  • Listen to your radio or television until you are told all is safe or you are told to evacuate. Evacuation for a volcano is the same as for any other disaster. (see Meridian article: Prepare to Evacuate )
  • Close and lock all windows and outside doors. Roll towels and place at the bottom of outside doors. Cover windows with blankets or plastic.
  • Turn off all heating and air conditioning systems and fans.
  • Cover vents under the eaves or in the attic.
  • Cover your dryer vent.
  • Close the fireplace damper.
  • Gather emergency supplies, food and water.
  • Cover windows and vents.
  • Cover the tops of your drainpipes. If ash becomes wet inside a drainpipe it will become like concrete, next to impossible to remove.
  • Securely cover dust-sensitive electronics.
  • Wrap your car in plastic or tarps if you must leave it outside during an eruption.
  • Plan an evacuation route away from rivers or streams that may carry mud or debris flow.
  • Keep a battery-operated radio available at all times, with back up batteries.
  • Monitor the radio or TV for evacuation information. If you are told to evacuate do it immediately. You don’t want to be stuck on the road when the eruption occurs.
  • Prepare a safe room that is above ground and without windows. (see Meridian article: Safe Havens and Safe Rooms)

When told to take shelter:

  • Go to your safe room and be sure to have emergency supplies including food and N95 face masks with you.
  • Bring your pets with you, and be sure to bring additional food and water supplies for them.
  • Call your emergency contact and make them aware of your situation and your plans.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Remove contact lenses.
  • Use an N95 dust mask or tie a damp cloth over your face to help with breathing.
  • Stay indoors until the ash has settled unless there is a danger of the roof collapsing.

If a volcano erupts in your area: 

  • You should already have evacuated. If you have not, listen to local authorities for advice. Evacuating once an eruption has occurred may be far worse than riding it out at home – better to be home than getting stuck in your car far from help and home.
  • If you are advised to get out, be aware of mud flows. The danger from a mud flow increases near streams and rivers and with prolonged rain. They can move faster than you can walk or run. Check carefully before crossing a bridge, and do not cross the bridge if you have any indication that a mud flow may be coming.
  • Take an evacuation route that avoids valleys and low-lying areas.
  • Stay away from areas downwind from the volcano to avoid volcanic ash.
  • Remember the best place to be is at home unless you are told to get out.  Driving can stir up volcanic ash that can clog engines, damage moving parts, and disable your vehicle.
  • If you absolutely have to drive, keep speed down to 35 MPH or slower.
  • Use your windshield washing solution every time you need to use your windshield wipers.
  • Ash can be slippery to drive in, so do not follow the car in front of you too closely and when stopping, leave room between you and the car in front in case the driver behind you cannot stop and you are rear ended. Remember, the goal is to keep moving, and you cannot do that if your car is disabled.
  • If your car stalls, push it off to the side of the road.

After a volcanic eruption: 

  • Do not approach the eruption area. It’s tempting to go see the power of a volcano, but it can be life threatening. This seems obvious, but is part of the “Bigger Fool Theory” (which contends that ‘there is always a bigger fool than you’).
  • Be prepared to stay indoors and avoid downwind areas if ash fall is predicted, even if you are dozens of miles away.
  • Evacuate if advised to do so by authorities. Even though the volcanic action is over there may still be threats to your family. If they tell you to evacuate, do it.
  • Be aware of stream and river channels when evacuating.
  • Avoid downed power lines. Electricity can travel in the ground for thirty feet causing death.
  • Move toward higher ground if mud flows are approaching.
  • Follow the evacuation signs posted along roads and highways. Be sure you have your map with several routes to your evacuation destination marked.
  • Travel with your car windows and vents closed.
  • If you are traveling through an area with ash, wear an N95 mask or wet cloth over your nose and mouth, even when in the car.

Ash can fall hundreds of miles away. If there is ash falls in your area: 

  • Stay inside. Close doors, windows and dampers. Roll towels and place at the bottom of outside doors. Cover windows with blankets or plastic.
  • When outside, wear an N95 face mask. Remember that these masks may not fit small children properly and can be held more securely in place by tying a damp bandanna over the mask. Masks may make breathing more difficult for people with impaired respiratory systems and children. Keep them indoors as much as possible. Contact your doctor if breathing becomes labored.
  • Keep pets indoors.
  • Replace disposable furnace filters or clean permanent furnace filters soon and frequently.
  • If you wear contact lenses, protect your eyes by wearing glasses or protective goggles, and  remove your contacts.
  • If you find ash in your drinking water, do not drink it.
  • Have your chimney cleaned before starting a fire.
  • Clean ash off of electronics you have wrapped before unwrapping.
  • Clear ash more than three inches deep from flat or low-pitched roofs.
  • Clean rain gutters often so they don’t become clogged.
  • Clean furniture by using a feather duster or vacuum. Ash will scratch your furniture if rubbed.
  • Shake ash off all clothing and bedding. Wash all clothing and bedding before wearing.
  • Leave the ash outdoors by removing outer clothing before entering your home.
  • Wash ash off cans of food before opening. Ash will clog your drains so if you have much accumulation, rinse things off with a hose in the yard.
  • Minimize travel.
  • Change oil and air filters in your automobile frequently, as long as any ash is present in your community.
  • Outdoors, slightly dampen ash before sweeping and then bag the ash in a plastic bag.
  • If a pet has ash on them after being outside, brush them off. Do not wash them as the ash will become thick and impossible to remove.
  • Restrict the movement of outdoor animals such as horses so they are not creating ash dust and breathing it in.
  • Remove an outdoor pet’s or livestock’s water source until it is safe to place clean water out for them. Do this as soon as possible
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