11. What should be done in the case of a volcanic eruption?

A first essential rule is to know the history of volcanic eruption in your area: very often people are not even aware of living in an ‘at risk’ area but such knowledge of risks is the first safety measure for them.

It must be recalled that volcanic hazard can also generate other hazards such as earthquakes, directed blasts, pyroclastic surges and flows, tephra, volcanic ashes and gases, lava flows, mudflows (lahars), debris avalanches, landslides, large fires and tsunamis.

If you live in a volcanic area, you must:

1. Before a Volcanic Eruption

  • Stay away from active volcano;
  • Be aware of emergency plans established by local and national authorities;
  • If you live near a volcano, active or dormant, be ready to evacuate at short notice.

2. During a volcanic eruption

  • Follow the evacuation order issued by authorities and evacuate immediately from the volcano area to avoid flying debris, hot gases, lateral blasts, and lava flows.
  • Check if somebody requires special assistance (e.g. children, old people, people with disabilities, injured persons, etc.).
  • Be aware of mudflows and landslides near stream channels, especially in case of prolonged heavy rains. As mudflows can move very fast, do not cross bridges or channels if a mudflow is approaching. Avoid also river valleys and low-lying areas.

In case of falling ash:

  • Stay away from downwind of volcano areas.
  • Listen to the radio; battery-powered radio or television is essential for listening to updated emergency instructions.
  • Avoid any contact with ashes: don’t breathe freely, use a dust mask or hold a damp cloth over your face to protect the respiratory tract, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Use goggles (safety glasses that protect the eye area) in order to prevent harm by particulates and chemicals substances and if needed, wear normal eyeglasses instead of contact lenses.
  • Stay inside until the ashes have settled and then avoid the danger of roof collapsing by clearing heavy ash from flat or low-pitched roofs and rain gutters.
  • Close doors, windows and all ventilation channels in the house (chimney vents, furnaces, air conditioners, fans and other vents);
  • Avoid driving during heavy ash fall and if really needed, drive slowly (less than 40-50 km/h);
  • Avoid also running car or truck engines as volcanic ashes can block them and damage moving parts.

3. After a volcanic eruption

  • Check with authorities if the state of emergency is finished and follow their instructions for the return to the affected area.
Mount Rainier — Living Safely With a Volcano in Your Backyard. Source: http://www.geographyalltheway.com