Kilauea Mitigation & Preparedness

If a volcano erupts, there are many potential problems that could effect the surrounding inhabitants associated with all the different types of eruptions. Obviously the lava itself, whether it be lava flows or shot into the air, can inflict great damage. The gases associated with eruptions can also be harmful to eruption. In modern times volcanoes are being avoided as much as planned for, but those in harm’s way should have a well-though plan of emergency.

Mitigation and preparedness are essential to control loss of life and property during natural disasters. The difference between the two is that mitigation is an attempt to minimize the effect of the disaster before it occurs, whereas preparedness is getting ready knowing there is a chance the disaster will occur.

One important way to control economic risks are to invest in mitigation efforts. For a volcano, the best mitigation is living far away from a volcano. These efforts are as much about what isn’t done rather than what is. Some of these events would be to avoid developing downhill from rift zones or to devise a way to direct lava around the city should the site be in harm’s way. Preparedness for a volcano is essential because there are many potential hazards in the area. In volcanic areas, warning systems are in effect and are widely publicized. These systems are essential to give nearby people as much time as possible to evacuate. The best preparedness for a volcano is a good escape route. It is recommended to have a checklist of what is imperative to bring (pack light!), a plan to get in touch with other family members or friends, and a planned escape route away from the volcano.

Volcanic Ash


Volcanic ash is another extremely damaging effect of a volcano eruption. It is especially dangerous because it fills the entire sky, and there is no way to stop it in its path. It covers everything and everyone with a acidic, gritty feel and a smell of sulphur. The only available mitigation is to design structures for the effects of ash. One inch of dry volcanic ash weighs 1 psf, of which the effects are only amplified when wet ash is considered (These loads are often accounted for as snow loads in cold areas, but warm places like Hawaii should be aware of ash weight effects). The building’s air handling unit is also a critical part of mitigation. It is important to be able to quickly shut off the units and cover all vents so ash does not get in. After the ash event it is critical to clean rooftops first, then the surrounding ground, then unmask the building. The Volcanic ash is harmful to the human respiratory system, especially in infants, the elderly, and asthmatic people. The level of preparedness in effected areas is critical to the safety of the inhabitants. A pamphlet instructing how to prepare for an ash event can be found here: Ash Alert! How to Protect your Family, Home, and Business. Included is a checklist that highlights such integral preparedness supplies such as a dust mask/respirator, food, water, and a fire extinguisher.

The mitigation attempts have not progressed exactly as planned, having to sacrifice several large developments to avoid the lava flows. Because of this it is imperative to be prepared for such an event regardless of cost. The required level of preparedness has an economic impact on the neighboring residents, taking money out of their pockets while their properties are at risk.

Works Cited:



3 Responses to “Kilauea Mitigation & Preparedness”

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