Submissions     Contact     Advertise     Donate     BlogRoll     Subscribe                         

Monday, February 2, 2009

Volcano Survival

New Car

Originally uploaded by nodigio

First, be prepared to get far enough away to be out of the range of the lava flow if the volcano you live near is a lava-producing volcano.

Most volcanoes give days, even months of warning before they erupt, so pack up your precious items and those things you’d hate to lose and store them somewhere far away from the volcano. This would be things like photos, scrapbooks, memorabilia, collectables, back-up copies of important papers, heirlooms, and items that would be difficult to replace. Rent a storage unit in some distant city, far enough away that it won’t be touched by any lava flow, and store your things there if you don’t have distant relatives who will store your things for you.

Board your pets a safe distance away, either with family/friends or with a professional boarding facility. Send their favorite food dishes and toys with them, and don’t forget to send bottles of your local water and their regular food. Abrupt changes in water and food can cause distress in your pet, and they are stressed enough being sent away from you. They can’t handle the ash fall and it would be cruel to keep them nearby. Send them at least 20 miles away to avoid ash-related injuries.

Pack Go-Bags for everyone in the family. Keep these bags close because if you’re among those who will stay until the last possible moment, you don’t want to be caught without the bare essentials. These bags should contain dust masks, goggles, gloves, hats, and long sleeved shirts and long pants to ward off the abrasive ash fall, along with the usual toiletries, money, spare clothing, medications, prescriptions (include prescriptions for glasses), back up copies of important papers, and comfort items. I’d go ahead and toss food and water in there, too, although in this day and age, you can probably get to safety before you need to eat anything, even if you wait too long. Ten to 20 miles away is usually far enough, although some volcanoes have spewed ash as far away as 150 miles, depending on weather conditions and how violently it erupts.

Some volcanoes don’t have a lava flow, and people near volcanoes like that may choose to stay. If you plan to stay, or you will be relocating to an area that may have ash falls from the volcano, you will need goggles and filter masks. Keep these with you at all times, and have spare masks tucked everywhere. You can make a temporary mask out of dampened fabric, but a real dust mask is much better. Don’t wear contacts – the abrasive ash can seriously damage your eyes. Wear glasses and safety goggles. Keep doors and windows closed as much as possible to keep the ash out. Stay indoors until the ash settles unless you must clear ash from gutters and low-pitched or flat roofs to prevent a roof collapse.

During the ash fall, there may be severe storms with lightning. You may experience power outages, so be prepared. Stock up for this.

Ash can fall for days. Be prepared for this. Wind and human activity can stir up ash for weeks, and even years, afterwards, causing roads to be slippery, visibility to be poor, and causing inhalation problems. Ash is small enough to be inhaled deeply into the lungs – so wear those masks! Drive as little as possible after an ash fall to prevent engine damage to your car. Be aware the equipment can fail at any time after an ash fall as it gets stirred up and damages power facilities and machinery.

Be prepared for random power outages and for reduced travel, which includes deliveries, by stocking up before hand, and cleaning up the ash promptly so it doesn’t remain to clog things up.

Unless you’re prepared to buy a new car, protect the one you have. Put your car inside an enclosed garage and block the cracks and openings as much as possible during the eruption. At the very least, cover it completely with heavy tarps. If you absolutely have to drive during an eruption, keep your speeds to below 30 mph to reduce airflow in the engine, and drive in protected areas as much as possible – under trees and between tall buildings, and in upwind areas of the volcano.

Water will be contaminated with ash. Stock up on water before hand. Cover wells, pools, and ponds at home to reduce ash contamination. Use water filters for tap water as ash may damage city water pumps and may be suspended in the water.

If your volcano comes with lava, evacuate before the panic and actual eruption. Stay as far away from the actual eruption site as possible to avoid flying debris, lateral gas blasts, hot gases, and lava flow. Be aware of mudflows, and avoid river valleys and low-lying areas. 20 miles is the safest distance to travel away from an erupting volcano.

Leave early, a day or more before the predicted eruption. Heavy rains and strong winds can accompany an eruption. Don’t come back until the eruption has ended, the ash has settled, and the lava flows have cooled completely.

Lava eruptions are also accompanied by ash, so you will have the same issues as an ash-only volcano.

If you have livestock near a volcano, or the ash cloud falls as far away as your pastures, you may lose some livestock and the pastureland will be inedible for a while. Even light ashfalls can set livestock off their feed. They will need to be dry feed or moved until the pasture is re-established. There is a risk of flourosis if the ash contains high levels of fluorine. Water for livestock will likely be contaminated by the ash as well, and the pumps to filter the water may be damaged. Milk yields from cows will be depressed, and the wool of any sheep may need to be discarded. Other damage livestock may take can involve hypocalcemia, damaged forestomachs and intestines, and secondary metabolic disorders. Re-pasturing livestock to an area unlikely or less likely to get ashfall is recommended.

Wildlife generally evacuate the area, but some may still be affected as well, particularly after the ash finishes falling and they return to areas with ash contaminated water and fluorine-contaminated grass and trees.

For crops and pastures, a thin ash cover will have a quicker recovery. Less than a 10th of an inch of ash will see the land recover within weeks, about an inch of ash can take a year to recover, coverage of between 1 and 5 inches can take between 5 years and several decades to recover. Ash coverage exceeding 6 inches can take centuries to recover. The soil can’t communicate with the surface and the surface must rebuild all new soil. The acidity of the ash also affects recovery.

Crops are most affected during blooming, young fruit formation, and harvest, as well as during their young emergence. Delicate crops will fail with any more than 1/10 of inch coverage. Crops that can be washed of the ash is still edible, but many producers find the cost of washing such produce too expensive to do, and so the crops are destroyed. If you are in a survival situation, you don’t have to worry about profits, so wash them well and eat away. Hairy produce can’t be completely cleaned of the ash, so must be carefully peeled or discarded.

In forest and wild places, young trees die when the ash coverage exceeds 4 inches. It usually takes 4 inches or more of ash to damage forests.

Of all the natural disasters, volcanoes are the “safest”. There is usually plenty of warning, and the disaster area is often small.

There are zones around a volcano. The highest risk area is within 300 feet of the eruption or vent sites. This is the kill zone. Your chances of survival here are slim to none. Avoid them. The next riskiest zone is the area out to approximately 900 feet, the area of the crater of the vents. If you are in this zone during an eruption, you have a 50/50 chance of surviving it. Stay out of it during active times. The next zone can extend out as far as 2 miles. Volcanic bombs can fall in this area at any time during an active phase or an eruption. The low risk zone extends out about 6 miles. Volcanic bombs and lava flow may reach this far in an especially violent eruption. Mt. St. Helens affected an area extending out 15 miles.

If you live 10 – 20 miles away from a volcano, you are probably pretty safe. If you live more than 20 miles away from a volcano, you are safe from all but the largest most violent volcanoes.


No comments:

Post a Comment