Thursday, May 7, 2009

In Case of Natural Disaster: Volcano Style

Lucky me, I have chosen to make my home in volcano country. And I don't mean "I live within the possible disaster zone", I mean I can see one from my house, and I could see another if there wasn't a small range of hills in the way. Volcanoes aren't a possible danger around here, they are a constant danger. Granted, thanks to Mt. St. Helen's erupting in 1980, area preparation for an eruption is fairly well planned out. However, there is still much about volcano eruptions that is a big unknown.

Ryan the 3L and I were discussing the republican retort to Obama's unofficial Budget Speech made by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, in which he criticized democratic funding for "volcanic monitoring" as a frivolous expense, saying "Instead of monitoring volcanoes, what Congress should be monitoring is the eruption of spending in Washington". First off, that's pretty rich coming from the Governor of a state who received $1.5 billion in the year after Katrina and Rita alone. Secondly, as Ryan the 3L pointed out our area is called the Ring of Fire. Volcanic Eruption isn't an if, it's a when.

Preparing for something like an eruption is different then say, a snow storm or a hurricane. Not only are you worried about the eruption itself, but you have to worry about all it's little buddies; Mudflows (nasty stuff), flash floods, landslides, rockfalls, earthquakes (that's a whole 'nother post), tsunamis, ash fall and acid rain.

Obviously you need the usual survival suspects; Water, food, Flashlights and batteries, essential medicines, blankets, candles, emergency radio, etc, etc. With volcano's one of the biggest concerns (and people killers) is the fallout of ash and noxious gases. To combat this particular issue; you should add dust masks (or preferably some sort of air purifying respirator), and eye goggles for each member of your family.

Be sure to store large sheets of plastic (these can be bought cheaply at any paint or hardware store) and rolls of masking tape. Use this to cover all windows and doors, and place wet towels or cloth along the bottoms to prevent ash and gases from entering the home. Turn off all heating and cooling systems, and if you have a fireplace flue, make sure to close it and make as airtight as possible. Also, if possible clear any roofs of ash cover, as ash is rock and therefore very heavy, and the last thing you want is the roof falling in on your head.

If there is sort of emergency and you are forced to drive, the ash can quickly clog even the best of car air filters. And old DNR trick my dad used was to wrap the filter in women's pantie hose. The hose allowed in the air, but not the ash. You still have to clean off the hose frequently, but at least you can travel if you need to. You should listen to any news reports for air quality, danger area and water quality reports.

If there's an eruption there is no way of knowing how long things will be nasty. I figure that in case of a super eruption, we will need at least a month of basic supplies, possibly longer. This is including food, water, medicine and power. Well, that ended up sounding a bit like a science report, but I hope it made you think. Every area is in danger of some sort of natural disaster, are you prepared?

1 comment:

  1. And don't live in a place where you would get flooded (Puyallup). That valley would be toast.


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