Volcanoes: Survival Guide

Volcanoes can throw a hot rock over 20 miles. Residue from the volcano can spread over 100 miles. If you live near a volcano, even if it is inactive, prepare to leave at a moment’s notice if the volcano is going to erupt. Just because there are a lot of rumbling and false alarms in the past does not mean that the current warning is not valid. Treat each warning as a serious threat.

Most people think of volcanoes only in terms of molten lava rushing down a mountain and a gooey orange stream flows down to the surrounding town. As scary and pretty as that may seem, it does not usually happen in just that way. A volcano is basically a big mountain with an underground river of extremely hot rock, rock that is so hot it is liquid and temperatures over 10000 degrees Fahrenheit.

When this swirling mass of hot liquid builds up under the mountain, it begins to boil over and starts to rise to the top. Earthquakes are usually great warning signs that something may happen. If there is too much pressure built up, the top of this mountain can explode into microscopic pieces of dust to large chunks of rock and heavy clumps of dirt. The ash from the volcano can rain over a large area and almost look like snow, except it is very warm and it makes the air very hard to breath.

If you are pelted with rocks spewing from the volcano, they can cause third degree burns. The danger of a volcano is further complicated by earthquakes, fires, floods, mud slides, tsunamis and the flow of the lava itself.

Before a volcano, know about the community alert systems and be prepared for these disasters that can be spawned by volcanoes. Make evacuation plans where you can be far from the eruption. Much like you would in a house fire, have two routes of escape out of town. Make use of your out of town family contact after you have gathered your family to stay with them until the danger has passed.

If you are caught by surprise, stay indoors and seal your home shut. Bring all animals inside or in a barn and seal it shut. Stay in the inner part of your home in an inner room and keep low so you do not inhale fumes.

If caught outside, do not go into low areas since they are prone to collect dangerous gas and are quick to flood. If the land or rocks start to slide around you, roll in a ball and protect your head while you go with the flow.

Whether you are indoors or out, wear goggles and use a dust mask. Do not breathe in the ashes. The ashes can be heavy enough to crush a building, so imagine what they will do to your lungs. The air will be hot and contain noxious fumes. Turn off the gas valves before it causes an explosion. If your home catches fire, it is time to leave the area as quickly as you can. Do not carry possessions or drag anything that will slow you down. If you have children, try using a wheelbarrow to port them out of the area.

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