Survive Volcanic Eruption

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Solution

Increasing the odds of surviving volcanic eruption

The description for "Volcanic eruption" can be found under "Why be prepared".

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Prelude

The first thing many people think of when faced with surviving volcanic activity is to simply avoid being anywhere near such a thing. Though there are truths to such a concept being successful at it may be a little tougher than one might think. With nearly 1500 volcanoes world wide and approximately 70 active volcanoes in the United States the chances of avoiding impacts associated with eruptions may become more difficult than originally thought.

The fact remains that human built societies are becoming more and more reliant upon one another simply meaning that it is more likely nowadays for a major calamity occurring at one end of a country to effect those living on the opposite end. Most everything associated with modern societies involves a large degree of  agriculture, manufacturing, logistics and distribution. Those who are reliant upon these modern systems are generally depending on people as well as those processes which most often scattered across the country.

Volcanoes can effect regions hundreds of miles away from the point of origin. It is not necessarily true that distance equals safety. The earth is consistently changing under our feet and may be presenting new evidence that major geological changes are on the horizon. As was the case in early history, ... explosive super volcanoes erupted with the kind of force that might be considered as extinction level events. This understanding however does not detour everyone. Most survival minded enthusiast typically refuse to perish without a fight. It is the instinct, drive and desire to live beyond a calamity and to take responsibility for their own survival. The aim in surviving most any type of natural disaster is to become self reliant and less dependent upon the assistance from others. To become more aware and develop instincts know to be conducive for surviving. Building knowledge and skills is advantageous and will become beneficial during such events.

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The following information has been provided with the intent to aid survival minded enthusiasts in the preparation for volcanic explosions and related activity.

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U.S. Volcanoes and Current Activity Alerts

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Map of erupting volcanoes

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Preparations

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Regional Familiarization

It is important to understand the regions where we reside if surviving any type of calamity has become a concern. Many survival minded enthusiasts tend to pull up maps of their local regions with the intent to discover special geological aspects associated with the area. [Maps]. Evidence of volcanic activity may not always be visually present or obvious. Performing a degree of research can make the difference between surviving or perishing. For those who possess intricate knowledge of their areas it offers a reasonable element of time to implement a plan of action with far less chaos.

Familiarizing ourselves with a region of concern also applies to vacationers and visitors of regions known for volcanic activity. Those who reside in these regions might benefit greatly from taking a few exploratory drives and hikes to discover where volcanic activity may be originating from. It is also beneficial to have a full understanding as to the potential path of destruction for if and when such an event occurs. As mentioned in the description content page for this subject matter many such aspects associated with volcanic explosions or related activity run down gullies and rivers. Topographical maps can assist in determining the paths and flow of debris as a result of explosive events and offer significant clues in avoiding specific areas.  [More maps]

Additional familiarization includes aspects associated with evacuation or "bugging out". Understanding routes and methods of leaving a potentially dangerous region in a hurry is conducive for surviving. During suspected volcanic events where an explosion may be immanent we may only get one chance to get it right and correct. Knowledge is our precious resource offering an advantage of time during these events for the quickest way out of town.

The concept of familiarization also applies in just the same way for those vacationing or visiting areas prone to volcanic activity. It may be advantageous to check with local authorities, chamber of commerce or the USGS in the aim of increasing levels of comfort while visiting potentially dangerous regions. Better safe than sorry when it comes to surviving such events.

Other aspects of familiarization include having knowledge pertaining to weather patterns, ... annual winds and other naturally occurring conditions which might have an impact on amplifying effects from volcanic activity.  [Wind data for the US] , [Global wind maps] Many people who live several miles away from areas suspected of having volcanic activity would benefit from obtaining such knowledge. This will provide residence or vacationers who live down wind a chance to inact a plan of action within a reasonable amount of time.

One last note on familiarization pertains to coastal regions with the hidden potential for volcanic activity. It may serve as a curious endeavor to investigate ocean based volcanoes located near the areas we live in. The facts depict that many such volcanoes exist on the ocean floors, ... some of them just off the coast of populated regions. Tidal waves and tsunamis can be generated by volcanoes just as they can from earthquakes. Researching coastal regions for the areas we reside in may prove alarming and prompt a defensive plan of action in preparations for the effects generated by such an off shore event.  [Volcanic risk zones]

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Planning

Having a POA, (plan of action), for any type of disaster or calamity is simply smarter when the aim is to increase the odds of surviving. The opposition to having a plan is nothing more than gambling with our lives and the lives of those within our care. A reasonable plan of action typically includes having provisions for sustenance, ... methods and accommodations for sheltering in place and a workable escape route for evacuating in a hurry. Secondary measures for a reasonable plan of action would account for rescuing others as well as pets and livestock. Sometimes releasing livestock from their corals, barns and pins is all that we can do prior to evacuating an area.

Roads may be closed by state or local authorities so having alternate routes for escape with extra fuel is an advantageous part any evacuation plan. Additional aspects associated with a reasonable plan include acts of spontaneity. Accommodating for spontaneity simply means to think outside the box with a clear head. Some of us may be at work when disaster strikes while others are faced with rescuing children at school or loved ones living in residential care facilities. Despite how often we practice, ... panic is an emotion which is difficult to master yet normal to experience under stressful conditions. Using good judgement will become advantageous for anyone caught in the middle of chaos.  [Plan of action]  [Action plan]

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Observations

The following pertains to environments within or near volcanoes. Efforts to survive volcanic eruptions and the associated effects of such an event can be enhanced by increasing our levels of observation. Becoming more observant means to pay closer attention to geological anomalies and recent changes with local landscape or terrain. The use of seismometers offers indicators for earthquakes and movements often indicative and associated with volcanic activity. Some people  monitor volcanic activity by observing gases that come out of fumaroles. Other subtle signs for potential volcanic activity include changes in the surrounding trees and plant life. Sometimes acidic compounds leaking into the soil begin to deteriorate the life forces of foliage. Other indicators include abnormal animal behavior. A sudden and unexpected mass exodus of wild animals and birds may offer clues that an eruption may be immanent. Just as important as these clues is having a clear understanding as to what the local alert systems sound like. remaining attentive to these alerts may provide additional time to implement a plan of action.  [Being observant] , [Becoming more observant]

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Shelter

Surviving a volcanic explosion includes accommodating for the need to "hunker down" and shelter in place. This is most often the case for surviving an immanent explosion when it is fully understood that escaping the blast during evacuation may not be not likely. Survival minded enthusiasts who reside in volcanic regions typically understand the need for sheltering in place. Underground bomb shelters with filtered trap style snorkels are advantageous for the use of surviving explosive effects of a volcano. Shelters built above ground with the intent of withstanding volcanic activity are designed with unique specification as well. These types of shelters are often made from concrete or similar materials and incorporate a steep pitched roof to prevent ash from accumulating. For those who may be concerned about their safety while visiting volcanic regions it may prove to be comforting and advantageous to seek out appropriate or similar shelters and protective locations, ... just in case.  [Blast shelters] , [Shelter images]

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Storage

Storing a few items known to be conducive for survival is never a bad idea, ... especially for those who live and work in regions which may be susceptible to experiencing volcanic activity. The kind of provisions to be stored are often contingent upon the circumstances and the duration or length of the calamity. For some, ... this may be  a cabinet full of food and water while for others it may be no more than a backpack or a pocket full candy bars. Survival minded enthusiasts tend to focus more on long term supplies such as freeze dried or dehydrated foods with the intent to remain prepared for extended periods at all times. Rotation of these types of foods are less often than that associated with canned foods or perishables. Storing water is also very important to consider for such events. Storing water for longer periods of time include the use of detoxants to assure purity. Unfortunately water is a resource that can be consumed at alarming rates. Most people tend to underestimate their water usage so having a degree of filters on hand will be advantageous. Additional provisions which so many people forget to keep in storage is the fuel required for the escape vehicles. Having a few cans of gas in a secure and safe storage cabinet can serve as assurance in completing the evacuation plan. Knowing how far we can travel with the fuel we have is a determining factor on where we go and weather we get there. Make note that nearby fueling stations may not function or they might refuse product during these times of disaster. It has been known to happen.  [Basic disaster kit] , [Kit storage locations]

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Security measures

The idea of protecting ourselves during such events should not be overlooked. In a perfect world we would all lend a hand helping those in need during times of calamity without concerns for our own safety. Unfortunately that isn't the real world we live in. People who are unprepared and desperate can do indescribable things to others without thought or concern for the outcome. Those with a warm helping heart and the desire to assist people in need are certainly of the highest caliber on earth and would benefit from exercising caution during these events. It is important to practice security measures so as to prevent violent attacks during any disaster or calamity. Implementing defensive measures can increase the odds of surviving such events.  [Physical security] , [Security measures]

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Machinery and equipment

Protecting machinery and equipment is simply advantageous and prudent when residing in areas prone to volcanic activity. The concept of protecting said equipment applies more to residence who may be exposed to volcanic ash and debris than it does for those visiting susceptible regions. Vehicles designated for the use of transportation can be protected from harmful areal deposits and particulates so that when the time comes to evacuate they will operate as intended. Vehicals need to breath air. The use of a snorkel is a common modification typically intended to help vehicles breath while submerged in water. These types of apparatuses can be modified further with additional filtration. That being noted it is important to consider carrying additional filter media for the air intake ports on all vehicle types, ... just in case a snorkel is unavailable. Filter media materials are intended to allow the vehicle to continue breathing while filtering out harmful particulates when necessary and can be easily removed and replaced within a few seconds. Survival minded enthusiasts who live and work in areas of higher risk tend to cover equipment and machinery regularly in the aim of decreasing particulate accumulation.

Additional equipment or systems that can benefit from adding external filtration would include the following: Air conditioners and circulation systems, farm equipment, aircraft's, troughs for livestock as well as drinking water holding tanks and rain gutter catch systems.  [Volcanic ash-fall impacts & mitigation]

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During an event

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First contact

The primary objective in surviving an explosive volcanic event is to avoid being caught in the blast wave. Seems like a simple enough task to accomplish until hearing stories and accounts from witnesses and survivors. According to people who have experienced these types of events a blast wave of any size is not something that can be outran on foot. Depending upon the size and force of the explosion outrunning by vehicle may be possible but not always likely. It certainly goes without saying that the first response to a volcanic eruption should be to seek immediate shelter before the blast hits unless time has allotted the ability to escape unharmed. Some volcanoes have been known to clear their throats prior to releasing the primary blast or explosion. This could be the single most important moment which may allow rescue and the ability to alert others. For those who are not already in or near a shelter this can present some time to gather supplies for hunkering down or inact an evacuation plan with a little more confidence.

This is not always the case. Some volcanic explosions are devastating on the first reveal. Discretionary reactions are specific for each scenario which means that there may be moments when we feel that the appropriate time may not available to do anything other than run for our lives. It is in those moments that having an evacuation plan may make the difference between surviving or perishing. For those in the middle of traveling and while in a vehicle an advantageous plan of action might include stopping under an overpass or concrete wall until the explosive event has passed. Avoid being caught off guard or swept away.

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Hunkering down

If the decision has been made to hunker down and shelter in place than some measures of protection might be considered as necessary to increase surviving such an  event.  For those without the convenience of a volcano shelter who are forced to stay indoors, ... at home or at work, ... the following measures can be implemented.  [Hunker down]

»  Close fireplace or wood-stove dampers.

»  Cover all possible air vents with additional filter media such as with "Carbon filtering" or other useful type materials.

»  Make ready those filtration masks and gear just in case going outdoors is required.

»  Gather or release outside and corralled animals.

»  Secure water or other consumable fluids. Containers, buckets or bladders. Municipal water supplies may not function during an event of this magnitude.

»  Turn on radios and tune in to local stations for immediate updates.

»  Activate alternate forms of communications such as CB, shortwave & ham radios.

»  Find a sturdy area within a structure that appears stout or tougher than the rest of the building such as with the lower area of a stair case, restroom or basement.

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Evacuating

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Exposure to gases, pyroclastic activity, ash and  lava flow are all potential hazards which present a risk during volcanic events. Protect skin from ash particles during evacuation with additional clothing  N-95 masks and other useful respirators should be used for protection against inhalation of volcanic particulates. Utilize an appropriate evacuation route conducive for avoiding areas with risk such as low bridges and levy roads which are susceptible to rapid and instantaneous mud flows. If evacuation must be accomplished on foot than staying on higher ground may be an advantage. Use trails which lead out of town and on the side of mountain peaks and ridges which are not exposed to the path of destruction. Pyroclastic effects can be avoided to some degree while traversing in such as way that is hidden from the explosive forces. During an explosive event other areas known to provide a degree of shelter is man holes and sewer systems. Once the explosive forces have subsided avoiding the secondary effects of a volcanic disaster needs to be considered and addressed such as associated with mud flows, ... lava, ... falling debris and ash.

Getting to higher ground and away from creeks and rivers is advantageous. Be advised that when utilizing aircraft during evacuation that ash can clog intake vents preventing correct operation. Flying in the same direction as the wind can aid in slowing the accumulation of ash flow into the air intake vents. Having a bug out bag with a degree of food, water and medical supplies is also  a component of an effective evacuation plan, ... just in case the escape vehicle stops working during the escape.  [Evacuate]

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After an event

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Following an explosive volcanic event the very next set of observations may be necessary for surviving the continuing effects associated with abrasive ash, lava and mud flows. Triage the area and our immediate situation. This means to take an account of the damage around us. Are we in immediate danger from falling power lines? Do we or others require immediate medical attention? Are we in the path of a destructive mud flow? Can we get to shelter and out of the debris dropping from the sky etc. Administer first aid if required or get to the nearest medical facility. Help others who require the same immediate attention.

For those returning home, caution is heavily advised. Careful observation may be required in order to avoid unseen hazards and dangers which are known to cause injury or death while traveling back home. If the home is reasonably intact than begin clearing away the debris. Once at home clear the ash from vehicles, roof & livestock areas. Be aware and stay alert to respiratory conditions as volcanic ash has a tendency to effect breathing. It is certainly advantageous to continue wearing face masks to prevent breathing in ash and harmful particulates. Seek immediate medical attention if suspected of having respiratory issues as well as any burns or problems with eye site. There may be dangerous conditions to be aware of while clearing away ash such as downed power lines, broken gas line etc. Taking inventory of the damages also means to use our natural senses to ascertain hazards.  If the smell of gas or propane is present then it will be smart to avoid causing sparks and ignition sources to prevent an explosive surprise. Turn off power main, water mains and gas prior to clean up. Unforeseen damages may be spotted during clean up that were not visible upon arriving home.  [Utility turn off] , [Utility shut off] , [Ash clean up]

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Extra stuff to have

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PPE, (Personal protection equipment), gas masks etc. carbon filter media, oxygen or breathable air source. Oxygen bottles, 4 x 4 or off road vehicle, goggles, water filtration systems or apparatuses, protein bars, back packs, bicycles, bottled water, extra clothing, 6 mil plastic sheeting, duct tape, fix-a flat and anything else that can be considered as an advantage in surviving a volcanic eruption.

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Videos

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How to Survive- Volcanoes  ]

[  How to survive a volcanic eruption  ]

 [  SURVIVE A VOLCANIC ERUPTION  ]

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References

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Global wind map / Interactive

http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/

http://nationalmap.gov/ustopo/

http://www.ready.gov/volcanoes

http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/volcano

http://www.volcanodiscovery.com/volcano-map.html

http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/volcanoes/during.asp

http://www.volcanodiscovery.com/erupting_volcanoes.html

http://volcano.oregonstate.edu/what-are-signs-volcano-about-erupt

https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sites/default/files/attachments/wind1996.pdf

http://www.mytopo.com/index.cfm?pid=google&gclid=COzKnaKA8MoCFQktaQodefUPZQ

 Volcanic Eruption