Volcanic eruptions

Habitat Ready: Disaster preparedness for homeowners

A volcano is a mountain that serves as a vent through which molten rock and other gases escape. When pressure from the gas and molten rock becomes too great, an eruption occurs.

Volcanic eruptions may be subtle or explosive and can produce dangerous lava flows, poisonous gases, and flying rocks and ash. Many volcanic eruptions are also accompanied by other natural hazards, such as earthquakes, landslides, debris flows, flash floods, fires and tsunamis. If you live near a volcano, active or dormant, be prepared to act on short notice.

Before a volcanic eruption

Additional considerations for COVID-19

  • Unless you live in a mandatory evacuation zone, it is recommended that you make a plan to shelter-in-place in your home, if it is safe to do so.
  • If you live in a mandatory evacuation zone, make a plan with friends or family to shelter with them where you will be safer and more comfortable.
  • Only evacuate to shelters if you are unable to shelter at home or with family or friends. Note that your regular shelter may not be open this year. Check with local authorities for the latest information about public shelters.
  • If you need to go to a disaster shelter, follow CDC recommendations for staying safe and healthy in a public disaster shelter during the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a volcanic eruption

  • Listen to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radio or TV for updated information.
  • Be prepared to evacuate, and do so immediately if necessary (See Disaster Preparedness Series: Family Evacuation Plan).
  • Avoid areas downwind and river valleys downstream from the volcano.
  • Close all windows and doors, and bring any pets or livestock into closed shelters.
  • If you are outdoors:
    • Seek shelter indoors immediately.
    • Avoid low-lying areas and streams.
    • If caught in a rock fall, roll into a ball to protect your head.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants and if necessary, along with goggles and a mask.

After a volcanic eruption

  • Continue listening to a NOAA weather radio or TV for the latest information.
  • Remain inside your home until officials declare it is safe to leave.
  • Inspect your home:
    • Check for damage to walls, the roof, the foundation, the electrical system and water lines.
    • Notify your insurance company if your home is damaged.
  • When outside, avoid volcanic ash fall. Cover your skin, nose, eyes and mouth.
  • Clear roofs of ash fall. Ash can be very heavy and cause roofs to collapse.
  • Avoid making phone calls except in serious emergencies.

Additional considerations for COVID-19

  • You should continue to use preventive actions like washing your hands and wearing a face covering during clean up or when returning home.
  • It may take longer than usual to restore power and water if they are out. Take steps to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning if you use a generator.
  • If you are injured or ill, contact your medical provider for treatment recommendations. Keep wounds clean to prevent infection. Remember, accessing medical care may be more difficult than usual during the pandemic.
  • Dealing with disasters can cause stress and strong emotions, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is natural to feel anxiety, grief, and worry. Coping with these feelings and getting help when you need it will help you, your family and your community recover.
  • People with preexisting mental health conditions should continue with their treatment and be aware of new or worsening symptoms. Additional information can be found at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration page.
  • When you check on neighbors and friends, be sure to follow social distancing recommendations (staying at least 6 feet, about two arms’ length, from others) and other CDC recommendations to protect yourself and others.
  • If you need to go to a disaster shelter, follow CDC recommendations for staying safe and healthy in a public disaster shelter during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • If you are sick and need medical attention, contact your healthcare provider for further care instructions and shelter-in-place, if possible. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1 and let the operator know if you have, or think you might have, COVID-19. If possible, put on a cloth face covering before help arrives. If staying at a shelter or public facility, alert shelter staff immediately so they can call a local hospital or clinic.

Additional resources

Emergency/preparedness information

Current volcano information

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