Friday, October 04, 2013

How to be prepared for a volcanic eruption

Volcanoes can slumber quietly for centuries, only to awaken suddenly and erupt, spewing out lava and ash. Within minutes, a volcanic eruption can destroy an area and kill all life. In 1980, Mount St. Helens in Washington erupted after an earthquake, destroying about 150 square miles of forest.

The U.S. has more than 160 volcanoes, including Kilauea volcano in Hawaii, which is one of the most active volcanoes on Earth.

In the U.S., people who don’t live on the West Coast or Hawaii may not see volcanoes as everyday threats. But even if you don’t live near a volcano, you may encounter one during your travels within the US or abroad. Whether you live near or volcano or are just visiting, it helps to be prepared. According to, you should:
  • Familiarize yourself with community warning systems, evacuation routes and shelter locations ahead of time. Create a household evacuation plan as well as a plan for sheltering in place.
  • Avoid river valleys and low-lying areas during an eruption. Be alert for mudflows, danger from which increases near stream channels and with prolonged heavy rains.
  • Listen for advice and instructions. If instructed to evacuate, do so immediately, says the American Red Cross.
  • If you can’t evacuate, stay indoors with doors, windows and ventilation closed to protect yourself from falling ash.

For more information, download our Get Ready volcano preparedness fact sheet.

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