What You Should Do in the Case of a Volcano

Recommended Reactions to a Volcanic Eruption

Information and advance warning are key to reacting to a volcanic event.

As for Any Disaster, Have a Plan & Preparedness Kit Ready for Your Family

We recommend establishing a family emergency plan and a 72 hour kit.

Have a Pair of Goggles & Disposable Breathing Mask for Every Family Member

These items should be in your kit anyway due to their usefulness not only in a volcanic event, but in the event of pandemic flu, earthquake, or any others where there are particulates in the air that you don't want to have in contact with your eyes or respiratory system. Volcanic ash is essentially pulverized rock and glass which is abrasive, gritty, gassy, and odorous. Although it is not immediately dangerous to most adults, infants or the elderly are particularly at risk.

Those with respiratory problems also need to take special precautions. If available, everyone should wear respiratory masks. If not available, a damp cloth held over the nose and mouth can help to filter out the ash. If you wear contact lenses, you should remove them. They can trap irritants against your eye or may react to the gases carried by the wind from the eruption. Everyone should wear eye protection if available.

Disposable Breathing Mask

Stay Tuned to Eas Broadcasts for Instruction Before, During, & Following the Disaster

Listen to your NOAA All-Hazards Weather Radio or another Emergency Alert System (EAS) broadcaster for instructions from emergency services before, during, and following a disaster. Lava flows are typically slow moving, so evacuation orders can be given well in advance. Emergency services will also give instruction on how to deal with ash or whether it will be necessary to shelter in place.

If Told to Evacuate, Do So Immediately

It is also important that you follow the routes given to you for evacuation by emergency services. Some roads may be impassable due to landslides, ash fall, or lava flows.

Wear Long Sleeve Shirt & Pants

This will reduce the amount of contact your skin has with abrasive and irritating ash.

Stay Indoors Until the Ash Has Settled, Unless There is Danger of Roof Collapse

It will be easier to get around once the ash has settled, but especially if it begins to rain be aware that ash can become very heavy. Try to monitor the amount of ash on your rooftop and make arrangements to remove it if it becomes too heavy.

Use Shelter in Place Procedures

Shut all windows, doors, and vents. Turn off any HVAC units that may be bringing ash into the structure.

Clear Heavy Ash From Flat or Low-Pitched Roofs

Luckily in Teton County, many structures are designed with roofs to slough off snow in the winter, which will also help with shedding volcanic ash in the event of an eruption. If ash does accumulate, shovel it off of the roof and out of gutters while wearing goggles, a dust mask, and long pants and shirt.

Avoid Running Engines or Driving in Heavy Ash Fall

Volcanic ash can easily clog engines, damage moving parts, and stall engines with its abrasive properties. Also, driving in depths of ash is not like driving in deep snow; as mentioned before, ash can easily clog engines and stall out vehicles.

Educate Yourself

Ready.gov has a site with information on volcanoes and what to do in the event of an eruption. The USGS also has some detailed information on volcano monitoring, preparedness actions, and more.

Man Clearing Ash
Driving Through Ash