Volcano Preparedness and Safety from Clem

Ceridwen Sanders
 

Volcano Preparedness and Safety
Learn about the hazards of an erupting volcano and how to keep your family safe.

 

There are more than 150 active volcanoes in the United States and its territories? You might feel better to learn that an ‘active’ volcano is one that has erupted in the past 10,000 years. Nonetheless, millions of Americans live, work or vacation in places that could be affected by volcanic activity. 

 

An erupting volcano can blast ash, lava, solid rocks and gases into the air, creating hazards that can kill people, disrupt air travel and destroy property many miles away. If you live near a known volcano, active or dormant, following these tips will help you keep your loved ones safe.
 
Before a Volcano Eruption
Prepare in Advance! That means:
 
Protecting your family
  • Talk about volcanoes with your family so that everyone knows what to do in case of a volcanic eruption. Discussing ahead of time helps reduce fear, particularly for younger children.
  • Make sure you have access to NOAA radio broadcasts:
 
Protecting your pets & animals

 

Protecting your home
  • Make a list of items to bring inside in the event of ashfall.
 
During a Volcanic Eruption

 

Staying Safe During a Volcanic Eruption
  • Listen to a local station on a portable, battery-operated radio or television for updated emergency information and instructions. Local officials will give the most appropriate advice for your particular situation.
  • Follow any evacuation orders issued by authorities, and put your emergency plan into action. Although it may seem safe to stay at home and wait out an eruption, if you are in a hazard zone, doing so could be very dangerous.
  • If indoors, close all window, doors, and dampers to keep volcanic ash from entering.
  • Put all machinery inside a garage or barn to protect it from volcanic ash. If buildings are not available, cover machinery with large tarps.
  • Bring animals and livestock into closed shelters to protect them from breathing volcanic ash.
 
If You Are Outdoors
  • Seek shelter indoors if possible.
  • Stay out of designated restricted zones. Effects of a volcanic eruption can be experienced many miles from a volcano.
  • Avoid low-lying areas, areas downwind of the volcano, and river valleys downstream of the volcano. Debris and ash will be carried by wind and gravity. Stay in areas where you will not be further exposed to volcanic eruption hazards. Trying to watch an erupting volcano up close is a deadly idea.
  • If you are caught in an ashfall:
1. Wear a dust mask designed to protect against lung irritation from small particles.
2. Protect your eyes by wearing goggles. Wear eyeglasses, not contact lenses.
3. Keep as much of your skin covered as possible.
 
After a Volcanic Eruption

 

Staying Safe After a Volcanic Eruption
If you do nothing else:
  1. Let friends and family know you’re safe.
    1. Register yourself as safe on the Safe and Well website
  1. If evacuated, return only when authorities say it is safe to do so.
  2. Continue listening to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio for updated information and instructions.
  3. If people around you are injured, practice CHECK, CALL, CARE. Check the scene to be sure it’s safe for you to approach, call for help, and if you are trained, provide first aid to those in need until emergency responders can arrive.
 
Caring for yourself & loved ones
  • Stay indoors and away from volcanic ashfall areas if possible. The fine, glassy particles of volcanic ash can increase the health risks for children and people with respiratory conditions, such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, or emphysema.
  • Whether you are indoors or outdoors:
  • Wear a dust mask designed to protect against lung irritation from small particles
  • Protect your eyes by wearing goggles. Wear eyeglasses, not contact lenses.
  • Keep as much of your skin covered as possible.
  • Keep animals away from ashfall and areas of possible hot spots. Wash animals’ paws and fur or skin to prevent their ingesting or inhaling ash while grooming themselves.
  • Help people who require additional assistance—infants, elderly people, those without transportation, large families who may need additional help in an emergency situation, people with disabilities, and the people who care for them.
 
Returning home safely
  • Avoid driving in heavy ashfall. Driving will stir up volcanic ash that can clog engines and stall vehicles. Abrasion can damage moving parts, including bearings, brakes, and transmissions.
  • Follow these tips for inspecting your home’s structure and utilities & systems after a volcano.
  • Take pictures of home damage, both of the buildings and its contents, for insurance purposes.
 
Cleaning and repairing your home
  • Wear protective clothing, including long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and sturdy shoes, and be cautious.
  • As soon as it is safe to do so, clear your roof of ashfall. Ash is very heavy and can cause buildings to collapse, especially if made wet by rain. Exercise great caution when working on a roof.
  • Learn more about how to clean up after a volcano, including the supplies you’ll need and how to handle fire hazards such as gas, electricity and chemicals.
 
Volcano Fact vs. Fiction

Fiction- Volcanoes erupt with regularity.
Fact- Volcanoes generally experience a period of closely spaced eruptions followed by long periods of quiet. Most volcanoes show no regularity, and thus on the basis of past history alone cannot be considered "overdue" or "ready to blow."
 
Fiction- Volcanoes are unpredictable, erupting at any time without warning.
Fact- Volcanoes usually give warning signs that they are going to erupt weeks to months or more in advance. Although we cannot predict when a volcano will start to be restless, once activity begins, scientists can make general forecasts about how soon an eruption will occur. A more difficult challenge for volcanologists is forecasting the size of an impending eruption.
 
Fiction- Lava flows are the most significant hazards from volcanoes in the United States.
Fact- Although this is true in Hawaii, the hazards differ at the more than 150 volcanoes in other parts of the United States. Principal hazards outside Hawaii include:
  1. Volcanic ashfall resulting from explosive-style eruptions. Volcanic ash, the shattered remnants of volcanic rock, rises into the atmosphere, where it is a hazard to aircraft and affects large areas downwind when it falls back to earth. Where it falls in sufficient quantity, it can cause difficulties for vehicles, machinery, and utilities, and can be injurious to human health.
  2. Volcanic mudflows (lahars) resulting from the sudden melting of snow and ice during eruptions. Lahars can inundate river valleys tens of miles distant, destroying bridges, highways, and other types of development, as well as endangering people.
 
Fiction- Earthquakes cause volcanic eruptions.
Fact- Earthquakes indicate a geologically active landscape, but they are not the cause of volcanic eruptions. In rare cases, large tectonic earthquakes have triggered eruptions of nearby volcanoes that have been poised to erupt anyway. In the case of Mount St. Helens, a flurry of earthquakes under the volcano suggested potential eruptive activity.
 
Learn More About Volcanoes
·     FEMA- Volcanoes
 
Related Emergencies

 

 

Earthquake Preparedness and Safety

 

Prepare in Advance 
Be sure you’re Red Cross Ready. That means: 
How to Prepare for an Earthquake 
 
Protecting your family 
  • Talk about earthquakes with your family so that everyone knows what to do in case of an earthquake. Discussing ahead of time helps reduce fear, particularly for younger children.
  • Check at your workplace and your children's schools and day care centers to learn about their earthquake emergency plans. 
  • Pick safe places in each room of your home, workplace and/or school. A safe place could be under a piece of furniture or against an interior wall away from windows, bookcases or tall furniture that could fall on you.
  • Practice DROP, COVER and HOLD ON in each safe place. 
  • Make sure you have access to NOAA radio broadcasts: 
  • Keep a flashlight and any low-heeled shoes by each person’s bed.
Protecting your pets & animals 
Protecting your home 
  • Bolt and brace water heaters and gas appliances to wall studs. Have a professional install flexible fittings to avoid gas or water leaks.
  • Do not hang heavy items, such as pictures and mirrors, near beds, couches and anywhere people sleep or sit.
  • Install strong latches or bolts on cabinets. Large or heavy items should be closest to the floor.
  • Learn how to shut off the gas valves in your home and keep a wrench handy for that purpose.
  • Place large and heavy objects and breakable items (bottled foods, glass or china) on lower shelves.
  • Anchor overhead lighting fixtures to joists.
  • Anchor top-heavy, tall and freestanding furniture such as bookcases, china cabinets to wall studs to keep these from toppling over.
  • Ask about home repair and strengthening tips for exterior features, such as porches, decks, sliding glass doors, canopies, carports and garage doors.
  • Learn about your area’s seismic building standards and land use codes before you begin new construction.
  • Have a professional make sure your home is securely anchored to its foundation, as well as strengthening tips for exterior features, such as porches, decks, sliding glass doors, canopies, carports and garage doors.

 

During an Earthquake

 

Staying Safe Indoors
  • DROP, COVER and HOLD ON!
  • Move as little as possible - most injuries during earthquakes occur because of people moving around, falling and suffering sprains, fractures and head injuries.
  • Try to protect your head and torso.
  • If you are in bed, stay there, curl up and hold on, and cover your head.
  • Stay indoors until the shaking stops and you are sure it is safe to exit. If you must leave a building after the shaking stops, use stairs rather than an elevator in case of aftershocks, power outages or other damage. 
  • Be aware that smoke alarms and sprinkler systems frequently go off in buildings during an earthquake, even if there is no fire.
  • If you smell gas, get out of the house and move as far away as possible.
  • Before you leave any building check to make sure that there is no debris from the building that could fall on you.
Staying Safe Outdoors 
  • Find a clear spot and drop to the ground. Stay there until the shaking stops.
  • Try to get as far away from buildings, power lines, trees, and streetlights as possible.
  • If you're in a vehicle, pull over to a clear location and stop. Avoid bridges, overpasses and power lines if possible. 
    • Stay inside with your seatbelt fastened until the shaking stops. 
    • After the shaking has stopped, drive on carefully, avoiding bridges and ramps that may have been damaged.
    • If a power line falls on your vehicle, do not get out. Wait for assistance.
  • If you are in a mountainous area or near unstable slopes or cliffs, be alert for falling rocks and other debris as well as landslides.

 

After an Earthquake

 

Staying Safe After an Earthquake 
If you do nothing else:
  1. If away from home, return only when authorities say it is safe to do so.
  2. Check yourself for injuries and get first aid, if necessary, before helping injured or trapped persons.
  3. After an earthquake, the disaster may continue. Expect and prepare for potential aftershocks, landslides or even a tsunami if you live on a coast.
  4. Each time you feel an aftershock, DROP, COVER and HOLD ON. 
    1. Aftershocks frequently occur minutes, days, weeks and even months following an earthquake.
  5. Look for and extinguish small fires. Fire is the most common hazard after an earthquake.
Caring for yourself & loved ones 
  • If you are at home, look quickly for damage in and around your home and get everyone out if your home is unsafe.
  • Listen to a portable, battery ­operated or hand­crank radio for updated emergency information and instructions.
  • Pay attention to how you and your loved ones are experiencing and handling stress. Promote emotional recovery by following these tips.
  • Watch animals closely and keep them under your direct control.
  • Help people who require additional assistance—infants, elderly people, those without transportation, large families who may need additional help in an emergency situation, people with disabilities, and the people who care for them.
  • Be careful when driving after an earthquake and anticipate traffic light outages. 
Returning home safely 
  • Stay out of damaged buildings. 
  • Use extreme caution and examine walls, floors, doors, staircases and windows to check for damage.
  • Watch out for fallen power lines or broken gas lines and report them to the utility company immediately.
  • If you smell natural or propane gas or hear a hissing noise, leave immediately and call the fire department.
  • Open closet and cabinet doors carefully as contents may have shifted.
  • Follow these tips for inspecting your home’s structure and utilities & systems after an earthquake. Take pictures of home damage, both of the buildings and its contents, for insurance purposes
Cleaning and repairing your home 
  • Wear protective clothing, including long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and sturdy shoes, and be cautious.
  • Clean up spilled medications, bleach, gasoline or other flammable liquids immediately. 
  • Learn about your area’s seismic building standards and land use codes before you begin any construction.
  • Follow our tips on preparing your home for an earthquake
  • Learn more about how to clean up after an earthquake, including the supplies you’ll need and how to handle fire hazards such as gas, electricity and chemicals. 
Ask a professional to: 
  • Make sure your home is securely anchored to its foundation
  • Strengthen exterior features, such as porches, decks, sliding glass doors, canopies, carports and garage doors
 
Client-Facing Resources: 
On-site staff may make these materials available to clients, staff and volunteers in language most appropriate. 
  • Be Red Cross Ready Checklist (English) (Spanish – Landing page)
  • Earthquake Safety Checklist (EnglishSpanishArabicChineseFrenchHaitianKoreanTagalogVietnamese)
  • Short Earthquake Safety Checklist (English & Spanish)
  • Power Outage Safety Checklist (EnglishSpanishArabicChineseFrenchKoreanTagalogVietnamese)
  • Landslide Safety Checklist (English , SpanishArabicChineseFrenchKoreanTagalogVietnamese)
  • Tsunami Safety Checklist (EnglishSpanish)
  • Home Fire Prevention & Safety Checklist (EnglishSpanish)
  • Emergency Planning for People with Disabilities, Access and Functional Needs – FEMA. If you or a member of your household is an individual with access or functional needs, including a disability, consider developing a comprehensive evacuation plan in advance with family, care providers and care attendants, as appropriate. Complete a personal assessment of functional abilities and possible needs during and after an emergency or disaster situation, and create a personal support network to assist. Review: Landing Page (English open in ChromeFEMA Checklist (English , Spanish , English – Large Print), Video (English language with American Sign Language open in Chrome)
  • Taking Care of Your Emotional Health after Disaster (English , SpanishArabicChineseFrenchHaitianKoreanTagalogVietnamese)
  • Children: Helping Children Cope with Disaster (12 pages) ( EnglishSpanishChineseHaitianKoreanTagalogVietnamese)
  • Download Free Bilingual Red Cross Emergency App (English , Spanishfeatures expert advice on how to prepare & respond to earthquakes and other disasters and features real-time local alerts for severe weather and hazards and includes a map with local Red Cross shelters. Text GETEMERGENCY to 90999 or search “Red Cross Emergency” in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. Promotional material available here.
  • Download the free Monster Guard: Prepare for Emergencies App. Children between the ages or 7 to 11 learn ways to stay safe in home fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and other disasters by role playing as different monster characters. Go to redcross.org/monsterguard or text ‘MONSTER’ to 90999 for a direct link to download the app. Children should ask a parent or guardian for permission to download the app. Promotional material available here.
  • Red Cross Disaster Preparedness Media Tools: A variety of visuals to supplement media and social outreach efforts are available here.
  • For additional Resources: Preparedness Resource Index(PRI) on The Exchange and attached, organized by hazard Tabs. These resources provide preparedness and safety information for different phases of the cycle (i.e. preparedness, response, recovery) as appropriate. 
  • FEMA – Earthquake Safety At Home
  • Great ShakeOut Resources, see below:

o   Recommended Earthquake Safety Actions (including situations when you cannot get beneath a table) (PDF | RTF

o   Updated! Earthquake Preparedness Guide for People with Disabilities and Other Access or Functional Needs (8 pages) (PDF | RTF

o   Updated! Key Earthquake Safety Tips for People with Disabilities and Other Access or Functional Needs (2 pages) (PDF | RTF)

o   Earthquake and Tsunami DAFN Preparedness Video (Sign Language and Open Captioned)

o   Prepare to survive and recover with the Seven Steps to Earthquake Safety!

o   Earthquake Safety Video Series Learn how you can stay safe from shaking in a variety of situations. (YouTube, captions in English, Spanish, and French)

 

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