A volcano is an opening in the earth’s crust where magma from the mantle reaches the surface. When pressure from gases within the molten rock becomes too great, an eruption occurs. Eruptions can be quiet or explosive.

Eruption Hazards

  • Lava Flows  – They destroy everything in their path, but most move slowly enough that people can move out of the way.
  • Falling Volcanic Ash  – They are made of pulverized rock and can be abrasive and acidic. Combined with toxic gases, the ash can cause lung damage to infants, older adults, and those with respiratory illnesses. Airborne volcanic ash can affect people hundreds of kilometres away from the volcano.
  • Lateral Blasts  – They can shoot large pieces of rock at very high speeds for several kilometres. These explosions can be killed by impact, burial, or heat. They can knock down entire forests.
  • Pyroclastic Flows (Lahars)  – They are a lethal mixture of ash, lava fragments, mud, superheated gas and water that can move at hundreds of kilometres per hour. Volcanic eruptions can be accompanied by other natural hazards; including earthquakes, flash floods, rock falls, landslides, acid rain, fire, and sometimes tsunamis.

How To Protect Yourself

Consider the following:

  • Add a pair of gloves and a disposable breathing mask to your survival kit,
  • Be alert for possible warning signs,
  • Be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice.

If A Volcano Erupts Near You

Consider the following:

  • Evacuate immediately from the area to avoid the hazards already mentioned,
  • If a cloud of hot gas and dust is rolling toward you – find shelter in an underground emergency refuge, or hold your breathe and submerge yourself underwater in a river or a lake for at least 30 seconds,
  • Avoid river valleys and low-lying areas – the risk of mudflows,
  • Stay away from areas downwind from the volcano to avoid volcanic ash,
  • If you are caught in ash fallout – use a dust mask, scarf or damp cloth over your face,
  • Use goggles or eyeglasses, a long-sleeve shirt and long pants,
  • Find shelter until the ash has settled –  be aware the roof can collapse under the weight of the ash,
  • Listen to the radio for emergency information.


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