When volcanoes erupt, molten lava, poisonous gases, and flying rocks can travel many miles away. Volcanic ash and acid rain can fall hundreds of miles downwind. Volcanoes can be incredibly destructive to your home and dangerous to your family. In addition to the direct hazards, an eruption can be accompanied by landslides, mudflows, flash floods, earthquakes, and tsunamis. If you live anywhere near an active or dormant volcano, you should be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice as eruptions are not always predictable. The danger area around a volcano covers approximately a 20-mile radius; however, some danger may exist 100 miles or more from a volcano.
How to Prepare for a Volcanic Eruption
- Be informed.
- Know whether your area has a history of volcanic eruptions and the status of any volcano nearby.
- Be knowledgeable of the extent of possible evacuation zones established by state, federal, or host-nation agencies.
- Make a written family evacuation plan.
- Make a written emergency communication plan in case family members are separated.
- Stay away from volcano sites that show signs of activity.
- Be prepared for other hazards that may accompany a volcanic eruption.
- Build an emergency kit that includes goggles and breathing masks.
What to Do If There Is a Volcanic Eruption
- Stay tuned to radio or TV for information and instructions.
- If you are told to evacuate:
- Do not wait. Leave immediately.
- Turn off gas, electricity, and water if time allows.
- Take your emergency kit.
- Follow designated evacuation routes.
- If you are NOT told to evacuate:
- Continue to listen to radio and TV. An evacuation may still be issued.
- Close and lock all windows and outside doors.
- Close fireplace dampers.
- Turn off all heating and air conditioning systems and fans.
- Gather your emergency supplies.
- Go into an interior room with no windows above the ground level.
- If you are trapped outdoors:
- Seek shelter immediately.
- If you are caught in a rock fall, curl up in a tight ball to protect yourself.
- Be aware of mudflows and flooding if you are near a stream.
- Protect yourself from hazardous falling ash:
- Stay away from areas downwind of the volcano.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants.
- Wear goggles to protect eyes.
- Wear a mask or use a damp cloth over your face to minimize breathing in ash.
- Keep car engines off and avoid driving.
- Stay inside if possible.
- Once you are in a safe place, muster with your command if you are military or civilian personnel or a member of the selective reserves.
What to Do After a Volcanic Eruption
- Continue to listen to radio or TV for information and instructions.
- Stay away from affected areas until otherwise instructed.
- Be careful when entering damaged buildings.
- After a declared emergency, register your needs with the Navy through the Navy Family Accountability and Assessment System (NFAAS) at https://navyfamily.navy.mil or call 1-877-414-5358 or 1-866-297-1971 (TDD).
Where to Find Additional Information
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/volcanoes/
- Department of Homeland Security (Ready.gov) & FEMA—www.ready.gov/volcanoes