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Severe Weather and Natural Disaster
Volcanoes

The Basics In-Depth Experiments Witness Account
Words to Know Experts Say Be Ready! Explore the Ring of Fire

Be Ready!

Scientists keep close watches on areas where volcanoes are likely to erupt.  That’s good news for most people, who usually have plenty of time to plan before a nearby mountain blows its top.

There are warning signs that let scientists know a volcanic may soon erupt: it will swell, spout steam and gas, and rumble noisily for several months. Other ways volcanologists monitor active volcanoes include:

  • examining rock deposits from previous eruptions to chart their frequency
  • using seismometers to detect even small quakes that often occur before an eruption
  • monitoring geophones, which are microphones placed underground in river valleys to “listen” for approaching mudslides

If you learn there's a chance of a volcanic eruption near your home, you should have a family escape plan that includes:

  • Ways to get to safety on high ground, far away from the eruption
  • A back-up route, just in case the main roads are blocked
  • A plan for keeping in touch in case family members are separated
  • An out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the family contact — someone you can call by phone and report where and how you are

After a volcano erupts, be sure to:

  • Stay away from volcanic ashfall areas
  • Wear goggles to protect your eyes
  • Put a dust mask or kerchief over your mouth and nose
  • Wear a long-sleeved shirt and pants to keep your skin covered and limit contact with any itchy ash

Experts recommend that you stay indoors until local health officials tell you it’s safe to go outside, especially if you have asthma or another type of breathing problem.