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6 Tips for Surviving a Volcanic Eruption


May 16, 2018
Categories: Safety, Health, Travel Tips

Kilauea volcano on the Big Island in the US state of Hawaii, one of the most active volcanoes in the world, started erupting on 3 May. At least 19 fissures have opened since the eruption, resulting in lava flows and dangerous toxic gas emissions. Nearly 2,000 people have been evacuated, and the lava has destroyed at least 36 structures. Residents in the area are bracing for what could be weeks more of lava flows and other devastating activity.

If you or anyone you know is traveling in Hawaii on Big Island, 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. We currently have Global Rescue Operations personnel in Hawaii performing reconnaissance on behalf our clients.

Recommendations for survival near an active volcano:

  1. Do your homework: Travelers heading to areas of the world where volcanic activity is most likely 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. … 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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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