Volcanoes are fascinating natural forces if you don’t live next door to one. But as many people living in Hawaii close to Kilauea Volcano know, a volcanic eruption is very much a reality and often includes fast-moving volcanic flows. For expats who have never experience a volcanic eruption but are living in a city near to a volcano, here are some safety tips you need to be aware of.
Volcanic eruption safety tips
Defining a volcanic eruption
A volcano can rumble along quietly for many years, but a volcanic eruption is when the earth’s magma rises through cracks or fissures on the earth’s crust due to the build-up of incredible pressure underground. Most eruptions take place when the tectonic plate shifts and the pressure is released in the form of a volcanic eruption. When this happens, magma explodes to the surface and rocks, gas, ash and dust are flung into the area through the main vent and through lots of small secondary vents.
Volcanoes that are dormant are often big tourist attractions and people from all over the world will come to visit them. However when things heat up, it’s time to take some safety precautions. If you are living or moving to an area with a volcano, you need to know what to do if it becomes active – even if it hasn’t erupted in many years. The more aware you are – the greater the chance that a tragedy like the one that took place in Columbia, when the Nevado del Ruiz Volcano erupted in 1985 killing 23 000 people, can be avoided.
Talk about the volcano with your family members, especially your children, and ensure they are aware of where they have to go to in the event of an eruption. Keep goggles and dust masks available where every family member can get at them and have an emergency medical kit prepared. If you have animals and pets, plan ahead as to how you will protect their safety in the event of an eruption. Lastly ensure you have a good supply of torches and batteries and a battery-operated radio.
During an eruption, follow local updates and instruction on the radio and heed the advice of the local officials. Don’t make the mistake of staying to protect your property – follow evacuation orders if they are issued. If you are ordered to stay indoors, close all doors and windows to prevent inhaling ash and do not drive if the ash fall is heavy. If an eruption occurs and you can’t get indoors, try to move to higher ground and protect your eyes, exposed skin and mouth from the falling ash.
Report your safety
Once an eruption has passed, only return to your home once you have been instructed. Check in with your friends and family to let them know that you are safe and continue to listen to local alerts and information in case a further eruption occurs.
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