Tips for Thought

Preparation Tips for a Possible Volcanic Eruption

Volcanoes are one of the world’s most mesmerizing yet dangerous natural resources. Simply put, volcanoes are ruptures in the earth’s crust, allowing substances to escape from a magma chamber beneath the surface. These substances are hot lava, volcanic ash, and gases.

Most of the earth’s volcanoes are around tectonic plates on land and in oceans.

Throughout history, volcanic eruptions have caused significant changes in the planet, including altering the earth’s atmospheric temperature, mass destruction of a population, and severe health concerns.

In 2023, Kilauea in Hawaii and Mayon in The Philippines have shown activity. Kilauea has recently halted its two-week eruption, while Mayon is still spewing lava and debris.

Why Are Volcanic Eruptions Dangerous?

Volcanic eruptions have killed countless people since the dawn of time; according to History.com, Mount Tambora’s explosion in 1815 in Indonesia killed roughly around 100,000 people in the immediate aftermath. However, many more died over the next several years, thanks to the eruption’s secondary effects.

Experts noted that a volcano’s after-effects are much more deadly than its direct impact. One after-effect is a volcano’s influence on the world’s temperature. Tambora’s explosion caused at least three years’ worth of climate change, where the dropping of temperatures led to less rainfall, failed crop yields, and mass starvation.

According to the United States Geological Survey website, starvation was the primary cause of death after Tambora, thanks to its after-effects on the world’s temperature. Volcanoes also bring about other environmental issues like mudslides, wildfires, and drinking water contamination.

Aside from shifting the climate’s temperature, volcanic eruptions spew harmful substances that can have debilitating health defects. These substances include dangerous gases, lava, ash, and molten rock. Breathing in these substances can lead to various respiratory issues, regardless of whether you’re healthy or have health conditions. Additionally, leaving yourself exposed outside during an eruption can leave you vulnerable to particles getting in your eye and other areas of the body.

What Are Some Volcanic Eruption Preparation Tips?

Fortunately, modern technology has brought about countless technological innovations that can help predict and study volcanic activity. Thanks to these innovations, people in high-risk areas can prepare themselves for the worst and have more time to evacuate before it’s too late.

Many countries with active volcanoes have a dedicated branch that monitors and provide real-time updates to any possible volcanic activity. These branches then provide alerts to help residents in various areas prepare and take caution. Said preparations usually involve bringing people who live in high-risk areas to safer locations. If you live near an active volcano, here are some safety preparation tips for future reference.

1. Make a preparation kit.

A preparation kit includes essential documents, food and water supplies, and tools that will help ensure your safety and survival. As a rule of thumb, here are some suggestions to keep in your preparation kit:

  • Flashlight and extra batteries;
  • First-aid kit;
  • Emergency food and water that will last for a week or more;
  • Essential documents include birth certificates, insurance papers, pet identification cards, etc.
  • Essential medicines;
  • Sturdy shoes for outdoors;
  • Battery-powered radio;
  • Can opener;
  • Extra clothes;
  • Gadgets with chargers;
  • Goggles for eye protection;
  • N-95 respirators or “air-purifying respirators.”

As for the latter two, both items are essential since exposure to ash can harm your health, primarily if you accidentally breathe in volcanic ash. Individuals should stay outdoors for short periods when ash is falling.

2. If you have been told to evacuate, here are some additional steps to follow before heading to an evacuation center or another area:

  • Tune in to the latest updates on volcano updates;
  • Listen for disaster sirens and warning signals;
  • Review your emergency plan and gather your supplies;
  • If you have a vehicle, include emergency flares, booster cables, maps, sleeping bags, tents, etc.

If you have ample time before leaving, plan your arrangements with friends and family. Some centers may not accept pets, so be ready to find a place your pet can stay until the eruption ends.

Follow the evacuation routes precisely since there’s a high chance that authorities will block certain roads.

If you have time, turn off all gas, electricity, and water outlets in the home. This step also includes unplugging appliances, which can cause a shock once the power returns.

Keep your insurance papers with you. You can worry about reparations once authorities deem it’s safe to return.

Finally, do not panic. Panicking doesn’t help make the situation disappear, and keeping calm can help you make rational decisions when needed.

Some positive side effects of volcanic eruptions:

Volcanoes are awe-inspiring yet hazardous natural resources on the planet. While they have incredible destructive power, volcanic eruptions also result in effects that benefit the ecosystem. Some of these beneficial effects include:

1. Soil enrichment is caused by abundant elements in the volcano’s ash and magma. Bits of volcanic rock also have mineral-rich components which help make the soil fertile. Fertile soil leads to high yields of crops that can feed various creatures while also encouraging biodiversity.

2. New creations of islands. Volcanic eruptions push materials to the surface, leading to new islands. These islands become habitable for life and serve as rest stops for people on long sea voyages. Some examples include a few chains of Hawaiian islands and the Ryukyu islands.

3. Formation of minerals and stones. Stones like pumice volcanic ash and perlite are mined for commercial uses. In some places, volcanic ash and pumice are essential when creating cement.

4. Promotes global cooling. While volcanoes emit incredibly hot substances, one after-effect it has on the planet is cooling its overall temperature, which has both positive and negative effects.

5. Formation of hot springs and geothermal energy. High heat flow in some regions of the planet is a product of recent magmatic activity. These geothermal fields create hot springs, geysers, and boiling mud pools, which are popular tourist destinations while also used for geothermal energy. The latter is a form of carbon-neutral power to generate electricity.

Some Final Thoughts:

Volcanoes are majestic but dangerous. Their eruptions can bring incredible destruction and advantages to the planet and its population. While the benefits take time to manifest, their destructive effects are immediate and can do more harm than good.

Fortunately, modern technology has made it easier for people to predict volcanic activity. These predictions can help people prepare for the worst, like moving to other areas until it’s safe to return home. Aside from following evacuation plans, residents must take caution by preparing an emergency kit and keeping updated on the latest news.