Tuesday, May 15, 2012

May is Volcano Preparedness Month

Would you know what to do if you were near a volcano that suddenly erupted? May is Volcano Preparedness Month in Washington state, so today we’re talking about what you can do to prepare for a volcanic eruption.

For many people who live in the U.S., volcanoes aren’t the first threat that comes to mind when people think of preparing for a natural disaster. But volcanoes are a bigger deal than you think: Our country is home to two of the 10 most active volcanoes in the world, and the U.S. Geological Survey monitors more than 160 volcanoes and former volcanoes in states that include Hawaii, Alaska and California.

Even if you don’t live near a volcano, you might end up near one if you ever take a vacation in Mexico, New Zealand, Italy or dozens of other countries. Are you convinced yet? Good! It’s time to get ready for a volcano.

  • Start by making sure you have a general preparedness plan in place, including making an emergency kit, mapping an evacuation route, and discussing your plan with family members and loved ones.

  • Listen to local TV and radio reports for updates about volcanic activity. If you are directed to evacuate after a volcano erupts, do so immediately.

  • Add goggles and face masks to your emergency kits at home and in your car. One of the biggest problems after a volcano erupts is volcanic ash, which can spread in the air for many miles. If a volcano erupts in your vicinity and you’re outdoors, head inside, close all windows and doors, and stay inside until you are told it is safe to leave.

For more information about preparing for a volcano, check out our Get Ready fact sheet, available in English and Spanish (PDFs).

Learn more about where volcanoes are around the world from the Smithsonian’s Global Volcanism Program.

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