Emergency & Disaster Supplies

Types of Disasters & Emergencies

 

Volcanos

A volcano is a mountain that opens downward to a reservoir of molten rock below the surface of the earth. Unlike most mountains, which are pushed up from below, volcanoes are built up by an accumulation of their own eruptive products. When pressure from gases within the molten rock becomes too great, an eruption occurs. Eruptions can be quiet or explosive. There may be lava flows, flattened landscapes, poisonous gases, and flying rock and ash.

Because of their intense heat, lava flows are great fire hazards. Lava flows destroy everything in their path, but most move slowly enough that people can move out of the way.

Fresh volcanic ash, made of pulverized rock, can be abrasive, acidic, gritty, gassy, and odorous. While not immediately dangerous to most adults, the acidic gas and ash can cause lung damage to small infants, to older adults, and to those suffering from severe respiratory illnesses. Volcanic ash also can damage machinery, including engines and electrical equipment. Ash accumulations mixed with water become heavy and can collapse roofs. Volcanic ash can affect people hundreds of miles away from the cone of a volcano.

Sideways directed volcanic explosions, known as "lateral blasts," can shoot large pieces of rock at very high speeds for several miles. These explosions can kill by impact, burial, or heat. They have been known to knock down entire forests.

Volcanic eruptions can be accompanied by other natural hazards, including earthquakes, mudflows and flash floods, rock falls and landslides, acid rain, fire, and (under special conditions) tsunamis.

Active volcanoes in the U.S. are found mainly in Hawaii, Alaska, and the Pacific Northwest. Active volcanoes of the Cascade Mountain Range in California, Oregon, and Washington have created problems recently. The danger area around a volcano covers approximately a 20-mile radius. Some danger may exist 100 miles or more from a volcano, leaving Montana and Wyoming at risk.

What to do Before a Volcanic Eruption

  • Add a pair of goggles and disposable breathing mask for each member of the family to your disaster supply kit.
  • Stay away from active volcano sites.
  • If you live near a known volcano, active or dormant, be ready to evacuate at a moment's notice.

What to Do During a Volcanic Eruption

If a Volcano Erupts Where You Live

  • Follow the evacuation order issued by authorities and evacuate immediately from the volcano area to avoid flying debris, hot gases, lateral blast, and lava flow.
  • Be aware of mudflows. The danger from a mudflow increases near stream channels and with prolonged heavy rains. Mudflows can move faster than you can walk or run. Look upstream before crossing a bridge, and do not cross the bridge if a mudflow is approaching.
  • Avoid river valleys and low-lying areas.
  • Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance - infants, elderly people, and people with disabilities.

Protection from Falling Ash

  • Listen to a battery-powered radio or television for the latest emergency information.
  • If you have a respiratory ailment, avoid contact with any amount of ash.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Use goggles and wear eyeglasses instead of contact lenses.
  • Use a dust mask or hold a damp cloth over your face to help with breathing.
  • Stay away from areas downwind from the volcano to avoid volcanic ash.
  • Stay indoors until the ash has settled unless there is a danger of the roof collapsing.
  • Close doors, windows, and all ventilation in the house (chimney vents, furnaces, air conditioners, fans, and other vents.
  • Clear heavy ash from flat or low-pitched roofs and rain gutters.
  • Avoid running car or truck engines. Driving can stir up volcanic ash that can clog engines, damage moving parts, and stall vehicles.
  • Avoid driving in heavy ash fall unless absolutely required. If you have to drive, keep speed down to 35 MPH or slower.
   
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