Volcanoes Aren’t Just for Middle School Science Fairs
5 THINGS YOU CAN DO TO PREPARE FOR A VOLCANO
Can we ASH you a question?
Did you know that the United States is one of Earth’s most volcanically active countries?
Yep! It actually ranks third, behind Indonesia and Japan.
In fact, most recently, on December 20, 2020, Hawaii residents received an unexpected end of year surprise: a series of weak earthquakes followed by an ongoing volcanic eruption. While the explosion did not pose an immediate threat to the surrounding community, residents were asked to shelter in place and stay home due to the high levels of volcanic gas, rockfalls, explosions, and volcanic glass particles.
But it’s not just Hawaii. The United States Geological Survey reports 169 potentially active volcanoes in the country across 11 other states including Alaska, California, Oregon, Washington, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, and Wyoming.
Now for the good news . . .
While we can’t prevent volcanoes from happening in the first place, we can control the scale and severity of their impact through greater monitoring and preparedness.
That’s where we come in. If you haven’t already, make sure to download the harbor app just in case your nearby mountain gets hotter than toast. In the meantime, here are:
5 things you can do to prepare for a volcano
1. Know your risk - Are you in the zone?
Knowing if your home is in a volcano hazard zone is the most important step you can take. Hop on the USGS volcano map to check if you’re at risk. Or, even better, you can just add your address to the harbor app and we’ll let you know that way too!
2. Stay alert - Tune into science.
In March 2019, Congress passed the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act (PL 116-9/S.47) authorizing the USGS to establish a National Volcano Early Warning System, allowing them to detect volcanic unrest at the earliest possible stage.
Show some love to your favorite scientists who helped make this happen by signing up for the free service called the Volcano Notification Service (VNS) that sends notifications about volcanic activity in your area.
Many volcanic eruptions are also accompanied by other natural hazards, such as earthquakes, landslides, debris flows, flash floods, fires, and tsunamis. So, having an NOAA certified radio will also come in super handy.
Here are the NOAA radios we LAVA the most!
3. Assemble a Go Bag - Be ready to Go for every Volcano.
Sometimes, sheltering in place may not be the safest option. In 2018, more than 2,500 Hawaiian residents in the hardest hit community by the Kilauea Volcano were forced to evacuate from their homes with only a 24 hour notice. That’s why it is important to consider and plan for the possibility of a mandated evacuation.
You can assemble your own Go Bag using our customized list in our app or you can buy a preassembled one. Here some great options:
4. Protect your lungs - Don’t be an ASH.
While ash mostly stays near the volcano during an eruption, a significant amount can travel thousands of miles and make landfall in your town and then right into your lungs. This can cause breathing problems, dry coughing, irritation of the throat, chest, and lungs, and in the worst scenario, suffocation.
Although cloth masks help prevent the spread of COVID-19, they shouldn’t be your go-to option for ash protection. It’s much better to wear a well-fitted industry-certified facemask such as an N95 mask anytime you are outdoors.
5. Protect your eyes - Goggle up!
Last but not least, volcanic ash particles are actually pretty big. Pieces of grit can cause significant eye irritation including painful scratches in the front of the eye (corneal abrasions) and conjunctivitis.
That’s why we recommend wearing goggles if you have to be outside. If you are a contact lens wearer, opt for eye glasses instead during a volcano.
Thankfully, volcanic eruptions are relatively rare. Even so, we're equipping you to care and get ready for anything. For more tips, tricks, product recommendations, digital document storage, comprehensive supplies checklists, and a personalized household safety plan, check out the harbor app.
no matter what, don’t worry, be ready.