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View the documentVolcanic eruption preparedness

Volcanic eruption preparedness

Active volcanoes are being monitored for possible activity and, there for, major eruptions can be predicted. Volcanic blast can destroy structures and the surrounding environment. It could cause fires, including forest fires. Lava and lahar flows as a result of volcanic eruption can bury buildings and crops and render land unusable.

Destruction of houses, buildings and trees as a result of ashfalls has been documented during the Mt. Pinatubo eruption. Airborne ash can affect aircraft when ingested by the engines. Earthquakes are expected during the explosion. Heavy rainfall could worsen the situation and victimize residents far and near.

Volcanic eruption

Precautionary measures before the eruption

· Assist in community efforts such as constructing diversion ditches and placing sand bag baffles in possible lava or lahar pathways.

· Clear all debris and other flammable materials in the premises and nearby areas. The explosion carrying burning stones and the lava flow could trigger fire in your vicinity. Try to store water in containers for fire-fighting purposes.

· If possible, temporarily dismantle the storm water gutter in your roofs to allow the free flow of ash from the eruption. Reinforce the weak parts of your house.

Precautionary measures before the eruption (1)

· Plan your escape route in case there would be need to evacuate your family. If you have a motor vehicle, (land vehicle or banca), fill it with gas and have it conditioned to be used in these eventualities. Formulate several family evacuation plans. Include livestock safety in your plan. Synchronize your activities with the community disaster preparedness plan.

· Look out for other possible hazards that may happen. Earthquake, a component of volcanic eruption, may trigger landslides. Flooding could result from heavy rains.

· Stock enough non-perishable food and potable water for the family, good for one week, in the event that your community becomes isolated due to the disaster. Cooking fuel, emergency light, over-the-counter medicines, first-aid kit, water disinfectants, field tent, personal protective equipment (gas mask, hardhat, raincoat, umbrella, boots, lime, vermin, disinfectants and repellents, flashlights and extra batteries, whistle, life jackets, etc.) should be made part of your emergency paraphernalia.

· Underwater volcanic eruption may result to a tsunami or giant tidal wave. Observe the shoreline. Tsunamis are preceded by marked recession of normal water level prior to arrival of the wave, that is a massive outgoing tide followed by the incoming wave. In this event, climb to the highest hill or place. A tsunami wave can reach as high as 30 meters.

· Remove breakable materials in high places such as light bulbs, chandelier, wall and ceiling decorations, contents of shelves and cabinets and place them on the floor. The earth movement may break them and hurt the house occupants.

· Listen to the radio's latest PHILVOCS alerts on the volcanic eruption. Monitor lahar alert level and visually evaluate the volcano's activity. Timely and accurate evacuation decisions would save the lives of your family.

· Shut off the electric main switch of your house before you evacuate elsewhere. This will prevent fires due to short circuit of the lines.

· Proceed to the nearest evacuation center and remain there until the volcano has calmed down.

Precautionary measures before the eruption (2)

During the eruption

· If you are caught on the road or become stranded, do not panic. Execute the other evacuation plan that your family has decided.

· Do not go sightseeing. Stay inside the house/building/evacuation center. Your presence outside may-hamper the flow of evacuation traffic or you may get hurt by the effects of the explosion or earthquake.

· Take cover under a table similar strong structure and stay-away from glass windows and appliances.

· If you are not with your family during the eruption, do not leave your location to be with them. Wait until it is safe.

· Do not try to clean or shovel the ashfall during the eruptions. Ash may hamper your visibility or quakes may throw you down or lightning may strike you. Damaged properties could be repaired but not the lives lost.

· Wear gas mask or cover your face with clean wet towel or cloth to prevent ash from irritating the eyes and entering the respiratory tract.

· If the evacuation center is further threatened by the effects of the eruption, re-evacuate in accordance with the local disaster preparedness plan.

During the eruption

After the eruption

· Listen to the latest radio updates and the alert signals. Listen to relevant advice from authorities. Stay in the house/building/evacuation center until the volcanic eruption and after shocks have subsided.

· Survey with caution the damage from the volcanic impact with caution. Look out for road erosions, landslides, flooded areas, fallen power lines and trees, weakened structures, molten lava deposits, lahar mud flow movements. Children should not roam the damaged area. Temporarily confine them to the house/evacuation center. Residual effects of the explosion could still be a threat to lives and properties.

· Check sanitation facilities (water supply system, toilet, waste water drainage, dump site). Due to the earth's movement, all water sources are declared unsafe for drinking. Institute emergency treatment of drinking water (boiling, chlorination, etc.) Construct temporary pit latrines. Cover the human waste with lime or ash or earth after every defecation. Do the same to your garbage pit. Drain stagnant water in the vicinity to prevent insect infestation.

· Cook food thoroughly and always observe personal hygiene. Avoid overcrowding in the sleeping area. Request assistance from the health authorities for other health and sanitation services that you would need.

· Only the adult members of the family should be allowed to go home to inspect the house condition. The rest of the family should only return when it is safe. Otherwise, stay in the evacuation center.

· Be an active member in the maintenance of a peaceful and sanitary condition of the camp site. Assist in the clearing of damaged facilities and in the rehabilitation of the disaster area.

Ideas for Action:

A Technology Information Kit, November 23-28, 1992