A volcano is an opening in the earth’s surface that allows magma (hot liquid and semi-liquid rock), volcanic ash and gases to escape. They are generally found where tectonic plates come together or separate, but they can also occur in the middle of plates due to volcanic hotspots. A volcanic eruption is when gas and/or lava are released from a volcano—sometimes explosively. Volcanoes provide a number of environmental benefits, for example: fertile soils, hydrothermal energy, and precious minerals. But they also pose several hazards: volcanic ash, gases, lahars (mud flows), landslides, lava flows, and pyroclastic flows (fast-moving currents of hot gas). Volcanic eruptions can be deadly and often cause population displacement and food shortages.
Do you know how to prepare for a volcanic eruption?
Assess and plan
Learn your volcano risks and warning signs and look out for unusual physical changes around volcanoes, such as increased ash fall or vegetation drying up. Learn and participate in early warning systems and develop plans for both evacuating and sheltering in place. Be aware of secondary hazards such as landslides, lahars (mudflows), ash and thunderstorms.
Protect your home from volcanic ash and cover water sources if time allows. Avoid driving during and after ash fall when visibility can be very low and roads are slippery. Protect your lungs and eyes by wearing protective gear such as goggles and masks. Pay particular attention to vulnerable people and support them to evacuate or shelter in place.
Prepare to respond
Follow official instructions from local authorities on whether to evacuate or take shelter. If you get warning prior to ash fall, return home from school or work and shelter in place. If the ash fall is heavy, do not remain in a building that has a low-pitched or flat roof. Make sure you have additional supplies such as dust masks, eye protection, cleaning supplies, a flashlight and an evacuation bag to hand. Collect and store clean water and clean up outside carefully when it is declared safe to do so.
Do's and don'ts
Learn and look out for volcano risks and warning signs
Become familiar with volcano hazard map and danger zones
Learn and participate in early warning systems
Be aware of secondary risks such as landslides and flash floods
Avoid driving during and after ash fall
Support vulnerable people to evacuate or shelter in place safely
Store clean water and food
Protect your eyes and lungs with goggles and masks
Prepare and practice evacuating or sheltering in place