How To Survive A Catastrophic Volcano | Supplies, Threats, More
For many people living in the United States, they fail to take seriously the threat of a major volcano. The last major domestic eruption was Mount St. Helens in 1980, but even that event has been reduced to Hollywood movie plotlines. But Mount St. Helens remains a major threat to the United States, as does Yellowstone volcano. If Yellowstone erupts, it could affect people living as far away as New York City.
What exactly is a volcano eruption, what does it entail, and what are the threats? In order to prep for a catastrophic volcano, you need to understand what a volcano eruption amounts to. Remember, you might be caught off guard, vacationing in Mexico, when suddenly a Popocatepetl eruption occurs. You might not have your volcano supplies with you, but prepping is more than supplies, it is knowledge. Knowing what you are dealing with will help you make quick, confident decisions. You don’t want to hesitate during a SHTF event.
Why Do Volcanos Erupt?
In short, pressure causes volcanos to erupt. Why do volcanos erupt? Think of the earth in the same way you think of your own body, or even the way you think of an oven. When you get too hot, you need to cool off. You might turn up the air conditioning, or pour a little cool water over the back of your neck, or shed a sweatshirt. Eventually, an oven needs to cool down. The heat will escape from the inside when you open it up and pull out the roast. Trapped heat looks for ways to escape.
Volcanos are the earth’s way of shedding heat and pressure. In some ways, the earth’s volcanos are simply ventilation for an earth that constantly builds up internal pressure and heat. When density lowers in the volcanos internal magma, it conflicts with the density and weight of the rocks above it. Magma rises to relieve pressure. The magma begins to release gaseous chemicals as a reaction to the increased and mounting pressure. The escaping gas becomes the initiation of the eruption. Depending on how much gas escapes into the air, a volcano eruption could be minuscule, moderate, or catastrophically huge. A volcano is a can of coke violently shaken, the chemistry needs to find a way to play out, which usually is the result of the can blowing all over your shirt when you open it.
Yes, as I touched on earlier, the United States has plenty of reason to prepare for a volcano. You aren’t just threatened during that fancy tropical vacation abroad, your own backyard is a threat to endure the fallout from major volcano activity. The United States is actually home to a mesmerizing amount of volcanoes. The list of American volcanoes is too long to dive into, but we can look at some notable ones.
Yellowstone Volcano Threat
Yellowstone Caldera: The Yellowstone volcano is one of America’s biggest catastrophe threats. If Yellowstone volcano erupts, it will be America’s biggest SHTF situation in modern times. The power grid is likely to fail. Water will immediately be contaminated. Communication layers will fail. Food availability will be compromised. The air will become unbreathable.
And this isn’t just for people living in Montana, this could be the case for people living in Kansas, Nebraska, Ohio, and Oklahoma. People as far as the east coast would likely get some fallout from a Yellowstone volcano eruption. The last Yellowstone volcano eruption was 640,000, but many scientists feel the volcano is due for another eruption.
Mount St. Helens
Louwala-Clough: This is probably the most notable and notorious American volcano. Having been featured in several Hollywood films, the volcano is well-known and many tourist frequent areas that give way to magnificent views. Mount St. Helens is located roughly 100 miles south of Seattle, Washington. The 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption buried or destroyed over 200 homes. The eruption was caused by a moderate earthquake in the region. Back in 2008, lava was noted to be leaking from the magma chambers, sparking fears of another eruption. But since then, the volcano has been relatively quiet.
Kīlauea is considered a shield volcano located in Hawaii. The islands of Hawaii, are in essence, volcanoes. Kīlauea is the most notorious and active of them all. The volcano is considered to be as new as 600k or less years in age, but it only breached around 100k years ago. Kilauea consistently spits out lava and it strikes fear into tourists and locals alike. Its an extremely active volcano. Its height is 4,190 ft. Its been incredibly active since the early 1980s.
How To Survive A Volcano
You might live in a volcanic region. You might live beyond where you feel any volcanic ash and plume could ever affect you, only to learn a hard lesson when SHTF. You might be someone who gets caught up in a bad situation while on vacation. In any case, you need to prepare, at least mentally, for how to survive a volcano.
Leave, Evacuate, Bug Out
The best thing any prepper can do when it comes to a volcano is to leave the region and avoid the potential fallout. However, volcanoes, while they do on the surface give us indications and hints of larger eruptions to come, are not a predictable science. People have jobs, families, and ties to regions that make up and leaving nearly impossible, particularly when they won’t know how long they will need to remain evacuated.
When it comes to prepping for a volcano, your bug out bag and bug out plan are going to be extremely important. First, have a plan of where you will go if an eruption begins to occur. Share this plan with loved ones. Designate meet-up spots.
Leave immediately. This is why you prepped so that if a major eruption is imminent, you can leave without hesitation. Time is a lifesaver when it comes to surviving a volcano.
The Volcano Is Happening, Now What?
If a volcano is occurring, protect your head immediately. Expect debris to rain down on you.
If you see lava, run away from it, but never run through it. You can either allow it to pass you by moving out of the way, or, run away from it.
Watch this video to learn more about what to do if you get caught in a volcano.
Look for someplace to shelter yourself. Once inside, close every door and window. If you have the means and supplies, seal any potential crevices which might allow the ash to filter into your breathing space. It would be a good idea to have duct tape in this case, although, if you are on a fun vacation, you aren’t likely to have it on you. The air ducts might offer the ash a system of entry, so cover those if possible. If the Air Conditioning happens to still be on, shut it off. You don’t want to pull in dangerous chemicals from the volcano’s ash. If you can, you might need to sweep the roof. Only do this if the roof is in imminent danger of crumbling and hopefully, you have some sort of mask. If you don’t, try to find a towel and wet it if possible.
Avoid the tap water.
Your stomach is likely to take a turn for the worse, just remain calm. Volcano eruptions typically cause cases of diarrhea.
Volcano Survival Supplies
You will need to make sure your bug out bag essentials are in order prior to any threat occurring. You may choose to bug out (evacuate) or hunker down due to circumstances, in both cases, your bug out supplies will matter.
You will need a gas mask. The number one threat a volcano offers you is plum and ash disrupting your ability to breath. If your lungs fill with ash and residue, your life will be in danger. Ash and plum can travel for hundreds of miles, so even if you are 300 miles away from a volcano and plan to hunker down, you may still need filtered breathing devices.
A helmet. Volcanos also kill by carrying dangerous debris and slinging it around. You need to protect your head from absorbing impacts.
Gloves can help protect your hands from interacting with hot surfaces, which can often be the result of magma and debris that’s landed near you and is extremely hot.
You will need a radio. Volcanos can take out your ability to communicate. A radio can keep you abreast of the ongoings and activity in your area.
Water. Plain and simple, you will need water. I’d encourage you to not only have bottled water stored, but also I encourage you to read my best survival water filter article.
Have a hard map available. Yes, I know, you probably would never think of that. But as the power grid goes, so does your Google Maps.
I suggest having vitamin D on hand. If a volcano as large as the Yellowstone volcano erupts, the sun could disappear for months or longer. In that case, you’d need a vitamin D supplement on hand.
SHTF Volcano Fallout | Defend Your Life And Property
Of course, like with any catastrophe, we shouldn’t ignore the potential for civil unrest. Criminals we see a volcano eruption as an opportunity. After a good amount of time without food and water, regular people will become desperate and reduce themselves to savages. That’s just the harsh reality of life. I strongly encourage that you look into the best SHTF gun. If you aren’t the gun type, certainly avoid. And if you don’t care to get training, doubly avoid. However, if you are willing to get some instructions and further educate yourself, a SHTF gun can help you protect you and your family during civil unrest.
Ok, now you have a better understanding of volcanoes. And that’s a good thing for any prepper. But it doesn’t have to be all drab and doom and gloom. Volcanoes are awesome and magnificent and super cool to learn about! Keep your fascination, it actually helps you contribute to survival!
Top Most Dangerous Volcanoes
Author: Jim Satney
PrepForThat’s Editor and lead writer for political, survival, and weather categories.