Preparing for natural disasters are a way of life in some parts of the world and a little wise planning can mean the difference between life and death. A volcanic eruption leaves the resident with some time to prepare, but a formal checklist is in order to provide maximum security to life and property. The rule is to evacuate if you are told by authorities to do so. However, there are many procedures and preparation necessary for smooth operation.
To prepare for a volcanic eruption, you must have a survival kit ready to go with a one-week supply of potable water and canned food items. Be sure your consumables are within the expiration dates and also remember to include your pet's food. Additional emergency kit items include first aid, radio, batteries, sleeping bags, maps, cell phone, money and a flashlight. Be sure to shut off all electrical equipment, including the refrigerator, and close all windows and rubber strip the doors. If there's time, a plastic covering taped over a fireplace will minimize the risk of toxic ash entering the house. The last emergency measure before you leave should be turning off your gas, electricity and water.
Rural communities may be short on temporary shelter, and many of them do not take animals. Responsible pet owners must make housing arrangements with an animal shelter or private kennel prior to the evacuation notice. Never leave your trusting animals behind, as they are viable family members and will be terrified on their own. In the case of livestock, these animals should be enclosed in a barn or other structure to cover them from falling debris.
At the first sign of an eruption, be sure you have plenty of filtered facemasks as the volcanic activity unleashes air born toxins that may disorientate you. Emergency service warnings will give you a general time frame in which to act, and it's well advised to have a full tank of gas for a quick getaway. But, be prepared for congested highways and leave yourself plenty of time to hit the road. Leaving your evacuation until the last moment can prove deadly when traffic conditions won't allow an escape.
The return and cleanup process should not be done until authorities issue a clearance. And since it may take days to remove the bulk of debris, you may need some additional housing time.