Top 10 Don’ts When You’re Caught in a Volcanic Eruption

If, by any stroke of bad luck, you just woke up and find yourself in the middle of a volcanic eruption – say Mount Mayon, congratulations, you have a very unique most challenging experience ahead of you.That should be worthy of be worthy of a movie – granting you survive to tell the tale.

Yes as you may have already heard, Mayon Volcano is already in Alert status level 4. And yet, many residents who have been evacuated in that Albay province still feel compulsed to go back to their homes – even against the will of the government. Burning lava is no joke. How much more if it’s coming your way? And unlike a typhoon which has a visible path, there is no sense presenting a forecast of when a volcano will make its presence known. For however advance the technology that we have today, it’s still the volcano who has the last say and not us.

Ladies and gentlemen, should you be confronted with this real-life challenge of waking up in the middle of a volcanic eruption, know that there is still a chance that you will survive – albeit slim. Yes, not poisoned by the gas or choked by all the ashes. Given you follow these guidelines.

#10:Don’t panic.

There are no hard and fast rules on how to survive as the circumstances will differ from one situation to another. The key thing is you have your full judgment capacity on the task at hand.

If you lose your head, you die. This is a life and death situation. Panicking will only give you poor decisions – something you can’t afford to make given the circumstances. So, get hold of yourself, stop crying like a baby and focus on more important pressing notions as “getting out of the situation alive.”

#9:Don’t run outside immediately. Use the house as protection.

Ash-fall and pyroclastic flow could be raining down soon – if not already. And as one Mount On take (Japan) survivor described: “Pyroclastic flows are high-velocity, high-temperature tephra density currents. That means they’re a mix of shattered rock and ash heated up to 1000°C, hot enough to burn bone and melt silver, that race down volcano slopes at up 200 meters a second in a swirling, fluid mess of turbulence.”

So close all entrances to your abode: doors, windows and other vents. You are in the safest place – for now. Depending on the situation, you may still have an hour or two to do what is necessary.
This also means that if you are outside, seek shelter.

#8:Don’t forget your skin.

National Geographic notes that you should change into long-sleeved shirts and long pants. As noted, hot ash, flying rocks and debris could fall from any direction.

Relying on your skin as the only protection for your body borders in the territory of the stupid.

#7: Don’t wear contacts.

It is important that you protect your eyes. However, wearing contacts can be counterproductive as you may eventually get eye abrasion from possible smoke emissions and dust particles – or bigger – flying around.

Instead, put on goggles or for that matter, eyeglasses for eye protection.

#6: Don’t ignore your breathing.

Another direct corollary in this tight scenario that is pushed down your throat is that you will find breathing fresh air a real challenge. As hot lava and lahar flows out of the natural time-bomb, one of the first to suffer is the air you breath.

And as CDC (Center for Disease Control) notes, exposure to ash can be harmful to your health particularly the breathing tract. So, if you have one, grab a disposable respirator – an N-95 – a device available in most hardware stores.

However, if finding a mechanism for breathing is impossible, use a damp cloth and place it over your face.

#5: Don’t act alone. Establish contact.

As soon as you can, establish contact. Now is the best time to put your smartphone or old cellphone to use. Let your inner circle you’re in the middle of one living hell. Be direct, this is not the time to make chitchat.

Whether via text or call – keep it straight to the point, making sure you don’t fail to tell them:

• Your exact location
• Details of what is currently happening

#4: Don’t act in haste. Seek proper advisory.

Put on that TV or if you still have one, the radio. The good thing about a natural disaster is the situation will have come into the attention of the national government and help is on the way.

So putting things in perspective, your most immediate concern should be to survive the few hours before help comes. That is why directions are most important: where to go, what to do. As you are in the heat of things, an evacuation plan is heaven-sent.

#3:Don’t stay too long under that roof.

Now, all the above-mentioned survival steps should buy you time. Let’s say 10-15 minutes tops.

It’s time you face the reality, however. Depending on your proximity to the volcano, where you are could be your grave, if you don’t move. You see, as CDC puts it: “because the weight of the ash could collapse the roof of your building and block air intakes into the building.”

Now, you could have less than an hour because the estimates CDC puts is for American houses which are more sturdy than the Pinoy abode. Get the drift?

#2: Don’t drive fast.

Whenever possible, avoid driving as National Geographic puts it: Ash can damage engines and metal parts.

If you must drive, the multi-awarded scientific research body says, stay below 56 kilometers an hour.

#1: Don’t forget your head.

If worst comes to worst and you’re in the middle of a rock fall, roll into a ball. Your most vital parts are protected that way.

Protect your head at all times. You can survive with a damaged arm or even a cut finger but an injury to the head or heart can be deadly.

Now, all the timely tips above should tell you the safest place to be during a volcanic eruption is to be somewhere else – miles away. So, if you’re saving on the expenses don’t buy a lot near a volcano – say Mount Mayon – no matter how cheap, even if it’s free. Better safe than sorry.

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  1. mike says:

    thaks for the advise

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