Alaska contains over 130 volcanoes and volcanic fields which have been active within the last two million years. The volcanoes in Alaska make up well over three-quarters of U.S. volcanoes that have erupted in the last two hundred years. Of these volcanoes, about 90 have been active within the last 10,000 years (and might be expected to erupt again), and more than 50 have been active within historical time (since about 1760, for Alaska).Alaska's volcanoes are potentially hazardous to passenger and freight aircraft as jet engines sometimes fail after ingesting volcanic ash. It is estimated, based on information provided by the Federal Aviation Administration, that more than 80,000 large aircraft per year, and 30,000 people per day, are in the skies over and potentially downwind of Aleutian volcanoes, mostly on the heavily traveled great-circle routes between Europe, North America, and Asia. Volcanic eruptions from Cook Inlet volcanoes (Spurr, Redoubt, Iliamna, and Augustine) can have severe impacts, as these volcanoes are nearest to Anchorage, Alaska's largest population center.
Volcano Preparedness Information
- Protecting Children from Volcanic Ash Related Health Hazards
- Ash Particles and Home Cleanup Problems
- Driving and Vehicle Maintenance in Heavy Ash
- Electric/Electronic Equipment Protection - Commercial and Major Systems
What can I do today?
Before a Volcanic Eruption
The following are things you can do to protect yourself, your family and your property in the event of a volcanic eruption.
- Build an Emergency Supply Kit, which includes items like non-perishable food, water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra flashlights and batteries. You may want to prepare a portable kit and keep it in your car in case you are told to evacuate. This kit should also include a pair of goggles and disposable breathing masks for each member of the family.
- Make a Family Emergency Plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.
During a Volcanic Eruption
- Follow the evacuation order issued by authorities and evacuate immediately from the volcano area to avoid flying debris, hot gases, lateral blast and lava flow.
- Be aware of mudflows. The danger from a mudflow increases near stream channels and with prolonged heavy rains. Mudflows can move faster than you can walk or run. Look upstream before crossing a bridge and do not cross the bridge if a mudflow is approaching.
- Avoid river valleys and low-lying areas.
- Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance - infants, elderly people and people with access and functional needs
Protection from Falling Ash
- If you are unable to evacuate, and in order to protect yourself from falling ash, you should remain indoors with doors, windows and ventilation closed until the ash settles.
- If you have a respiratory ailment, avoid contact with any amount of ash. Stay indoors until local health officials advise it is safe to go outside.
- Listen to a battery-powered radio or television for the latest emergency information.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Use goggles and wear eyeglasses instead of contact lenses.
- Use a dust mask or hold a damp cloth over your face to help with breathing.
- Stay away from areas downwind from the volcano to avoid volcanic ash.
- Stay indoors until the ash has settled unless there is a danger of the roof collapsing.
- Close doors, windows, and all ventilation in the house (chimney vents, furnaces, air conditioners, fans and other vents.
- Clear heavy ash from flat or low-pitched roofs and rain gutters.
- Avoid running car or truck engines. Driving can stir up volcanic ash that can clog engines, damage moving parts, and stall vehicles.
- Avoid driving in heavy ash fall unless absolutely required. If you have to drive, keep speed down to 35 MPH or slower. After a Volcanic Eruption
- Go to a designated public shelter if you have been told to evacuate or you feel it is unsafe to remain in your home.
- Local authorities may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do. However, you should listen to NOAA Weather Radio, watch TV, listen to the radio or check the Internet often for official news and instructions as they become available.
Additional Volcano Links:
- Pacific Disaster Center - The PDC provides easy access to hazard and risk information and analytical products for executive decision-makers, disaster managers, and community planners.
- Alaska Volcano Observatory.
- Volcanic Ash - Ash effects and preparedness.
- National Weather Service - Ash fall warnings and forecasts of ash clouds.
- USGS Geological Information - Information on volcanoes and earthquakes.
- Mitigation Reference Link Page - see DHS&EM complete list of mitigation links here.
If you have questions about mitigation, e-mail Alaska's Hazard Mitigation Officer, Michelle Torres.