After months of monitoring and warning, Mount Agung in Bali began erupting this week, prompting authorities to issue the highest alert level in the area as well as evacuation orders within the Estimated Danger Zone, which is within five miles of the volcano.
If you or anyone you know is traveling in the Bali area, or within range of an active volcano soon, it is important to know how to keep yourself safe. Global Rescue’s intelligence and security personnel monitor global events including natural disasters every day, and have developed protocols and warnings for those who could be in danger.
Recommendations for survival near an active volcano:
- Do your homework: Travelers heading to the “Ring of Fire” – the string of volcanos around the edges of the Pacific basin – as well as East Africa’s Rift Valley and Mexico should research volcanic risks prior to departure. Check local media and government agencies that track seismic activity, as agencies are often able to provide warnings weeks or even months in advance of an eruption — for example, Indonesian authorities first raised the alert level for the Mount Agung volcano in Bali on 15 September, more than two months prior to its 21 November eruption.
- Bring a Volcano Emergency Kit: This should include goggles, masks, flashlights, and a radio, as well as food and water if they can be stored safely.
- Be ready to move…: In the event that you are traveling to an area where a volcanic eruption may be imminent, it is best to immediately find transportation to a safe location. If possible, withdraw cash ahead of time – credit cards may not be usable if networks go down.
- … but be ready to improvise: Volcanic ash can damage aviation equipment and reduce visibility for pilots, and eruptions may trigger airport closures and flight cancellations. When Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted in Iceland in 2010, the volcanic ash cloud prompted the closure of most of the European airspace for 6 days, resulting in the cancellation of thousands of flights across northern and western Europe. Ground vehicle transportation may be affected too – if driving, maintain a low speed to minimize engine damage due to volcanic ash particles.
- After the eruption: If an eruption occurs, try to exit the area immediately. Take care to avoid lava, mudflows, river areas, and low-lying regions. Travelers should be prepared to utilize any means necessary to exit the affected region, including air, sea, and land travel. Monitor local media, government alerts, and airport notices to stay informed as the situation develops.
- Protect yourself indoors and out: Take health precautions while outdoors by covering skin and wearing masks and goggles. If you don’t have a mask, tie a damp cloth over your mouth. While indoors, close windows, doors, vents, and any other openings that may let ash into the buildings.
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