If a volcano erupts in any significant way, you will likely want to (and be asked to) evacuate immediately. It’s also possible you’ll be asked to shelter in your home. In either case, preparing will make the process easier, and the right supplies could even save your life.
Use this guide as the starting point for your volcano emergency preparedness kit. The supplies in your kit should last your family three days, and don’t forget about those idiosyncratic extras that will be the difference between eking by and sailing through. Every family is different!
As you pack your kit, be aware that evacuating could eventually mean carrying your items on foot. Your core essentials should fit in backpacks so they can move with you quickly.
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- Extra water: Ashfall can contaminate raw water sources and create health hazards. Keep bottled water on hand and plan for one gallon of water per person per day.
- Non-perishable food: There’s no telling whether an eruption and its associated hazards will affect your region’s power grid.
- Emergency Tool Kit: MacGuyver might not need it, but it could solve some big problems for you in a crisis.
- Manual can opener: Unless your canned foods have pull tabs, you’ll need this!
- Flashlights: Get at least one for every person in your family, and keep the batteries separate so they don’t corrode while your kit is waiting to make its debut.
Battery-powered radio: Keep a backup radio on hand in case your phone’s connection or charge is kaput.
- Extra batteries: Any battery-powered tool should be packed with extra batteries. (Remember to remove batteries from electronics when not in use!)
- A Fully-charged Power Bank: Keep your devices charged whenever possible
- Whistle: Alert emergency services if you need to be rescued
- First-Aid Kit: An essential part of any disaster prep kit, along with hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. Moist towelettes and garbage bags will also help you control sanitation
- Sturdy shoes: You may end up walking; make sure you have good tread on your shoes. Thick soles are always good in an emergency.
- Respiratory protection: Volcanic ash is hazardous when inhaled, so keep particle-filtering respiratory protection on hand. N95 or R95 respirators are a good place to start. Remember to keep a tight seal.
- Eye protection: Goggles will shield your eyes from tiny ash particles and other contaminants that may be swept into the air.
- Long-sleeved clothing: Volcanic ash can give your skin a chemical burn. Protect your precious flesh. Plastic sheeting and duct tape are also useful to create a makeshift shelter
Make sure your Go Bag contains some bottled water and some compact, high calorie foods like candy or bricks of emergency food. If your 3-day water and food supplies are too heavy to carry on foot, you will want to have a smaller supply of food and water in your Go Bag, just in case.
Additional Supplies (depending on who is in your group)
- Prescription medications
- Over-the-counter medications (i.e. pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medications, etc.)
- Infant formula, diapers, baby wipes, etc.
- Pet food and extra water for pets
- Essential family documents: insurance policies, identification forms, etc.
- Sleeping bags/blankets for each member of your group
- Change of clothes per person
- Feminine hygiene supplies
- Disposable utensils and plates
- Paper and pens
- Activities to keep young children and restless adults occupied
Update Your Kit Over Time
Like any disaster preparation kit, you should update your supplies over time to be sure they’re ready when needed.
- Replace food, water, and medication annually–make sure the expiration dates are at least one year away when you make your replacements
- Replace respirators according to their expiration dates
- Test your batteries and swap out old batteries with new ones when necessary (and remember to remove batteries from appliances when not in use)
Keeping your emergency kit up to date is the best way to create peace of mind. The second best way is talking about emergency preparedness with your family.