Volcanic eruptions

Habitat Ready: Disaster preparedness for homeowners

A volcano is a mountain that serves as a vent through which molten rock and other gases escape. When pressure from the gas and molten rock becomes too great, an eruption occurs.

Volcanic eruptions may be subtle or explosive and can produce dangerous lava flows, poisonous gases, and flying rocks and ash. Many volcanic eruptions are also accompanied by other natural hazards, such as earthquakes, landslides, debris flows, flash floods, fires and tsunamis. If you live near a volcano, active or dormant, be prepared to act on short notice.

Before a volcanic eruption

During a volcanic eruption

  • Listen to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radio or TV for updated information.
  • Be prepared to evacuate, and do so immediately if necessary (See Disaster Preparedness Series: Family Evacuation Plan).
  • Avoid areas downwind and river valleys downstream from the volcano.
  • Close all windows and doors, and bring any pets or livestock into closed shelters.
  • If you are outdoors:
    • Seek shelter indoors immediately.
    • Avoid low-lying areas and streams.
    • If caught in a rock fall, roll into a ball to protect your head.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants and if necessary, along with goggles and a mask.

After a volcanic eruption

  • Continue listening to a NOAA weather radio or TV for the latest information.
  • Remain inside your home until officials declare it is safe to leave.
  • Inspect your home:
    • Check for damage to walls, the roof, the foundation, the electrical system and water lines.
    • Notify your insurance company if your home is damaged.
  • When outside, avoid volcanic ash fall. Cover your skin, nose, eyes and mouth.
  • Clear roofs of ash fall. Ash can be very heavy and cause roofs to collapse.
  • Avoid making phone calls except in serious emergencies.

Additional resources

Emergency/preparedness information

Current volcano information

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