How Can Authorities Reduce the Damage Caused by Volcanoes?

How Can Authorities Reduce the Damage Caused by Volcanoes?

Establishing a risk mitigation plan enables authorities to reduce the damage caused by volcanoes. A typical plan includes emergency service coordination, evacuation decision criteria, time-sensitive communications, building safety regulations and evacuation route modifications.

Any volcanic response strategy requires well-established roles and communication channels for government agencies, police, fire, public utilities and hospital staff. An emergency operations center provides a consolidated meeting place with access to secure information systems that support inter-agency incident response. Planning, drills and tactical checklists ensure efficient management during a volcanic crisis.

Uncertainty during the first phase of volcanic activity complicates evacuation decisions. Earthquakes, lava flows and ash falls are potential threats but unpredictable. An approved decision matrix with actions defined for each foreseen outcome allows authorities to prepare for multiple combinations of circumstances.

Communication plans are critical to managing a volcanic event. Effective communication targets specific audiences affected by evacuation decisions, such as involved agencies, media, business and the public. Each group responds to messages differently, and the public is most responsive to specific threats over time frames within 24 hours. Distributing educational materials prior to an event increases public awareness and compliance with response plans.

Building safety measures include requiring peaked roofs to minimize collapses from ash accumulation. Standard earthquake codes apply to areas around active volcanoes. Evacuation routes often require widening roads and enforcing more stringent building codes.