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  • Be Prepared And Keep Your Family Safe: What To Do During A Volcanic Eruption

    Keep these emergency guidelines in mind should a volcanic eruption happen.
    by Kitty Elicay .
Be Prepared And Keep Your Family Safe: What To Do During A Volcanic Eruption
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  • The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) raised an Alert Level 4 over the Taal Volcano after it started to spew steam and ash on Sunday, January 12, 2020. An Alert Level 4 means a “hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days.”

    The agency has ordered the total evacuation of Taal Volcano Island and additional evacuation of areas that are at “high risk to pyroclastic density currents and volcanic tsunami” within a 14-kilometer radius from the Taal Main Crater. According to the Philippine Star, an Alert Level 5 (hazardous eruption ongoing) may be raised within the next few days.

    What to do during a volcanic eruption

    If Taal Volcano erupts, the Department of Health (DOH) has published an infographic on how to keep yourself and your whole family safe should the volcanic eruption happen when you are at home or outdoors. We’ve also included additional tips from the Red Cross Organization and the National Geographic.

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    Remember these important emergency guidelines on what to do during a volcanic eruption:

    If you live near an active volcano:

    • Listen to regular updates from volcanic monitoring centers.
    • Follow the advice of local authorities. They will be providing information about any threat of volcanic eruptions and what to do should you need to evacuate your area. Prepare your survival kit or emergency Go bag. It should have enough supplies including water, food, clothes, first-aid supplies, and medicine. Add a battery-operated flashlight and radio if you can.
    • If local authorities advise you to evacuate, do so immediately. It might be dangerous to wait at home even if it seems safe. Evacuate while there is still time. Take your survival kit with you.

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    If you are outdoors:

    • Head indoors as fast as you can. Seek shelter in a car or building.
    • If you are caught in volcanic ashfalls, wear a dust mask or use a damp handkerchief or cloth over your nose and mouth to help with breathing.
    • If you are driving a vehicle, pull to the side of the road and stop if there is heavy ashfall.
    • If there are falling rocks and debris, lie down and curl up in a ball to protect your head.
    • If you are near a stream, river or bodies of water, monitor the rise of water and lahar flow. Evacuate to higher grounds if necessary.
    • Apply first aid to any wounds or burns.
    • If your eyes, nose, or throat are irritated by smoke, evacuate the area immediately. The symptoms should immediately disappear. If it persists, consult a doctor.
    • Use protective gear like masks and wear goggles or eyeglasses to protect your eyes.
    • Keep as much of your skin covered as possible. Wear long sleeves and pants to protect your arms and legs.
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    If you are indoors:

    • As much as possible, stay inside your home.
    • Close all doors and windows and prevent ash from coming in by placing damp curtains and cloths at thresholds.
    • If you are near heavy ashfall, avoid running air conditioning systems and fans especially after eruption because they can pull in volcanic gasses and ash.
    • Fill large containers with clean water as eruptions can cause disruption or contamination of water supplies.
    • Keep your pets indoors to prevent them from inhaling ash. Volcanic ash is poisonous to animals.

    Stay indoors as much as possible while the Taal Volcano is active. If you must go outdoors, it is best to wear a dust mask or an N95 particulate respirator mask rather than a surgical mask. The N95 respirator is designed to “achieve a very close facial fit and very efficient filtration of airborne particles,” according to the US Food and Drug Administration.

    If you do not have access to a dust mask, you can use a damp towel, washcloth, or handkerchief temporarily.

    According to the DOH, ashfall can cause nose and throat irritation, coughing, eye irritation, discomfort while breathing, and minor skin problems. It is because freshly fallen ash can have “acid coatings,” which causes the lung and eye irritation, says the International Volcanic Health Hazard (IVHHN). Symptoms due to exposure are typically short-term.

    People with lung problems, like bronchitis and emphysema, are at risk for more severe symptoms when exposed to ashfall. They may suffer bouts of coughing, tightness of the chest, and wheezing, according to the IVHNN.

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    Does your family have an emergency Go bag? Click here for a list of supplies you should include in it.

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