What to do during a volcano eruption?
MANILA, Philippines – Mount Kanlaon erupted anew on Saturday morning, June 18, and is currently in a state of unrest, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).
On June 10, Mount Bulusan expelled ash with an estimated height of 6,562 feet, or around 2,000 meters. (READ: FAST FACTS: Mt Bulusan, the PH's 4th most active volcano)
There are 300 named and unnamed volcanoes in the country, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs). Around 23 of these volcanoes are considered active while 27 are potentially active. The rest are inactive volcanoes – volcanoes with no recorded eruption in the past years. (READ: Map of active volcanoes in the Philippines)
Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum previously said that the number of active volcanoes could still increase given the country’s location within the Pacific Ocean’s Ring of Fire, a 40,000-circle of interconnected fault lines around the Pacific Ocean, where other seismic activities such as earthquakes also occur on a daily basis.
A volcano is considered active if it has erupted within the last 600-10,000 years, as backed up by historical accounts and based on analyses of datable materials. But no matter how long volcanoes sleep, they are still capable of waking up to life and causing significant eruptions.
The number of volcanoes in the country can be attributed to its unique tectonic setting making it ideal to volcano formation.
"The archipelago is surrounded by subducting plates as manifested by the trenches that are related to volcano formation," Phivolcs explained.
So how then should the public prepare before and respond during, and recover after volcanic eruptions?
- Each person should be aware of the dangers that volcanic eruptions. Volcanic eruptions are expected to caush ash falls which in turn could harm humans, animals, plants, equipments, and structures. Beyond that, fine volcanic ash is also often respirable which can cause pulmo-respiratory diseases if inhaled over prolonged period.
- Prepare all necessary things to bring in case of evacuation: gas mask or clean cloth, candles, matches, flashlights, extra batteries. Don't forget to prepare your disaster kit ahead of time.
- Know which areas are covered by the danger zones.
- Stay calm. Cover your nose and mouth with mask or clean cloth.
- If you are outside, immediately seek cover in case of ash or rock falls. Wear glasses to protect your eyes and avoid all low-lying places.
- If you are inside a house, listen to the radio for updates and developments regarding the volcanic eruption. Close all windows and doors of the house and your car to prevent ashes from getting inside.
- If you are driving a vehicle, pull to the side of the road and stop if there is a heavy ashfall.
- As soon as the ashfall tapers, scrape off the ash that has accummulated on roof tops to prevent collapse.
- Stay in the evacuation center until further instructions. Do not attempt to leave the place unless told to do.
- Thoroughly wash utensils before eating. Cover water containers and food to avoid contamination with ash.
- After removing the ash, clean the roof and gutter with water to prevent corrosion.
- Shake loose the ash from plants, furniture, and windows before cleaning them with water. Cover your nose while cleaning.
- Wait for further announcements related to the volcanic eruption.
While we cannot stop volcanic eruptions, the public, through informed action, can minimize its adverse effects. – Rappler.com