Volcanic Activity: What does it mean to be prepared?

By Admin. Updated 9:30 p.m., Tuesday, December 29, 2020, Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4).

The La Soufriere volcano in St. Vincent and the Grenadines began erupting effusively on December 29, 2020.

The alert level for volcanic hazards is now at orange which means that risks are heightened.

There is currently no order or advisory for anyone to evacuate, but residents living in the northern parts of mainland St. Vincent are urged to be on the alert and to be prepared in case the situation escalates.

But, what would preparation mean?

Here is some information from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – CDC.

How to prepare:

Be prepared either to shelter or to evacuate. Develop an evacuation plan and a sheltering plan for yourself, your family, and others in your household. Review the plans and make sure that everyone understands them. If you haven’t already done so, put together an emergency supply kit. Supplies should include the following:

  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit and manual
  • Emergency food and water
  • Manual (nonelectric) can opener
  • Essential medicines
  • Sturdy shoes
  • Respiratory (breathing) protection
  • Eye protection (goggles)
  • Battery-powered radio

Exposure to ash can harm your health, particularly the respiratory (breathing) tract. To protect yourself while you are outdoors or while you are cleaning up ash that has gotten indoors, use an N-95 disposable respirator (also known as an “air purifying respirator”). N-95 respirators can be purchased at businesses such as hardware stores. It is important to follow directions for proper use of this respirator. For more information, see NIOSH-Approved Disposable Particulate Respirators (Filtering Facepieces) . If you don’t have an N-95 respirator, you can protect yourself by using a nuisance dust mask as a last resort, but you should stay outdoors for only short periods while dust is falling. Nuisance dust masks can provide comfort and relief from exposure to relatively non-hazardous contaminants such as pollen, but they do not offer as much protection as an N-95 respirator. Cleanup or emergency workers may need a different type of breathing protection.

If you are told to evacuate

Follow authorities’ instructions if they tell you to leave the area. Though it may seem safe to stay at home and wait out an eruption, doing so could be very dangerous. Volcanoes spew hot, dangerous gases, ash, lava, and rock that are powerfully destructive.

Preparing to evacuate

  • Tune in the radio or television for volcano updates.
  • Listen for disaster sirens and warning signals.
  • Review your emergency plan and gather your emergency supplies. Be sure to pack at least a 1-week supply of prescription medications.
  • Prepare an emergency kit for your vehicle with food, flares, booster cables, maps, tools, a first aid kit, a fire extinguisher, sleeping bags, a flashlight, batteries, etc.
  • Fill your vehicle’s gas tank.
  • If no vehicle is available, make arrangements with friends or family for transportation, or follow authorities’ instructions on where to obtain transportation.
  • Place vehicles under cover, if at all possible.
  • Put livestock in an enclosed area. Plan ahead to take pets with you, but be aware that many emergency shelters cannot accept animals.
  • Fill your clean water containers.
  • Fill sinks and bathtubs with water as an extra supply for washing.
  • Adjust the thermostat on refrigerators and freezers to the coolest possible temperature. If the power goes out, food will stay cooler longer.

As you evacuate

  • Take only essential items with you, including at least a 1-week supply of prescription medications.
  • If you have time, turn off the gas, electricity, and water.
  • Disconnect appliances to reduce the likelihood of electrical shock when power is restored.
  • Make sure your automobile’s emergency kit is ready.
  • Follow designated evacuation routes—others may be blocked—and expect heavy traffic and delays.

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