Who Needs to Prepare for Volcano Eruptions?

"Me?" hot dog costume GIF, who needs to prepare for volcanic eruptions
East coast hot dogs are so rude.

Volcanoes are the ultimate gamble. They’re terrifying when they go off, but they almost never pop! Since there are many, many more non-eruption days than eruption days, we just don’t believe it could happen to us. The famous supervolcano at Yellowstone hasn’t erupted in over 70,000 years, making it ripe for an explosion, and Yellowstone remains a super popular tourist destination.

why prepare ahead of time
Hello, caldera.

Another reason humanity has taken to the game of volcano gambling is that not every eruption is a catastrophe. Researchers believe that Mount St. Helens let out at least three small-scale steam eruptions between 1898 and 1980. It wasn’t until 1980 that the volcano erupted with enough force to seriously threaten those nearby.

In other words, volcanic eruptions aren’t a problem—right up until they are. Anyone in a designated hazard zone of an active volcano should be prepared for the worst-case scenario. Preparing will make it easier for families to evacuate quickly in accordance with public safety recommendations.

Okay – But Who Really Needs to Prepare?

Anyone within 20 miles of a non-extinct volcano of any stature should definitely be prepared. For larger or more volatile volcanoes, anyone within a 100 mile radius should be prepared. Even if the volcano is dormant, it still poses a danger. If you’re not sure if there is a volcano within 100 miles of you, now’s the time to check!

In the United States, many states have inactive volcanoes, but the most volcanically-active areas include:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Hawaii
  • Oregon
  • Washington

West coast friends, do not fret. The US government has established a National Volcano Early Warning System (NVEWS) to monitor volcanoes and assign levels of risk to each, so you’ll be informed if things change in your neighborhood. The volcanoes are part of the surveillance state! You can even read the full list of Volcano Hazard Assessments in the United States if you’re bored.

So, west coast is the best coast, but might also be covered in lava someday soon. How do we prepare?

who needs to prepare for volcanic eruptions
Bison in Yellowstone National Park should definitely take precautions.

About the Authors

It takes a village! We are researching, writing and fact checking as a family. Collaboration is the name of the game, whether we’re running from a zombie horde or finding the best way to turn a complex concept into a deliciously digestible set of bullet points.

Katherine Esperanza is a Los Angeles based writer. When she's not conjuring new queer slice-of-life short stories, she's busy watching the newest films, out at queer shows, supporting queer artists, or just checking out the queer community as a whole.

A former international non-profiteer, small business owner, and co-op'er, Katherine is delighted to help introduce more leftist politics into the disaster preparedness/prepper sphere, which is currently far too right-wing.