Preparing for a Volcanic Eruption

If you are stuck in an area that is at risk of a volcanic eruption, there are some basic things you can do to stay safe:

The projected lava flow areas from Mount Agung's potential eruption in Sep 2017. Source:

The projected lava flow areas from Mount Agung’s potential eruption in Sep 2017.

The danger of volcanic eruptions is the eruption can include:

• Hot clouds, Temperatures of 300 to 700 degrees Celsius, speeds of more than 70 km / h.
• Volcanic materials, in the form of hot rocks with temperature more than acidic ash rain and harmful to breathing, vision, damage to groundwater and plants
• Lava in the form of viscous liquids between 700 and 1200 degrees Celsius.
• Toxic gases that can come out through cavities or craters along with eruptions, which can kill living things.

What can you do?

Before the eruption:

• Identify areas prone to volcanic eruptions
• Agree a safe meeting place with local people.
• Determine the closest rescue / evacuation path from the house to the meeting place
• Prepare a special bag containing necessities for three days such as food, clothing and medicine.
• Follow periodic rescue / evacuation drills to save yourself to a safe location during an earthquake.

When evacuating:

• Be aware of infectious diseases in refugee camps, such as ARI, diarrhea, measles.
• Be aware of food poisoning
• Try to avoid using anywhere as a toilet. If possible, dig a whole, and wash hands
• Boil water before drinking it.

During the eruption:

• Immediately evacuate if there is an order to evacuate from an authorised agency
• Avoid travelling along paths or roads that are in the path of prevailing winds coming from the volcano direction.
• Avoid dangerous areas that have been set by looking at a map of the potential threat area.
• When you see the surface of the river flow rising, quickly look for a higher area.
• When trapped in a room, close all doors and windows.
• When in the open space look for a place to seek cover
• In case of stones start raining down, protect the head with a bent position with the body leaning forward to protect the chest and cross the hands between the fist and the nape to protect the head.
• When it rains, do not wear contact lenses (for those who use them), try to cover the face with both palms or handkerchiefs and use a cloth / mask to protect the breathing

After the eruption:

• Return home once the situation is declared safe by the authorities
• Clean the roof of the house from any excess dust or ash. The thickness of the ash will be very heavy and can lead to the collapse of the roof of the house.

Post eruption:

• If possible avoid areas of ash rainfall
• When outdoors
– close your mouth and nose. Volcano dust can irritate your respiratory system.
– Use glasses to protect your eyes
– Protect your skin from irritation caused by volcanic dust
– clean the roof due to the rain of volcanic dust
– the dust that covered the roof is very heavy and can lead to the collapse of the roof of the building. Be careful when working on the roof of a house building
• Avoid driving in heavy rain
• Driving a vehicle causes dust to suck and can damage the vehicle’s engine
• If you have a respiratory illness, avoid as much contact as possible with the volcanic ash – wear a mask
• Stay indoors, until the state is declared safe outside the home

source: via our partners at

By Simon Cottrill

Simon Cottrill

President of Handle With Care International