Photograph by Vladimir Voychuk, National Geographic Your Shot
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Soufriere Hills Volcano overlooks an abandoned town near Montserrat in the West Indies. The regular eruptions of Soufriere Hills frequently force residents in surrounding villages to abandon their homes for safer ground, rendering much of Montserrat uninhabitable.

Photograph by Vladimir Voychuk, National Geographic Your Shot

Volcano Safety Tips

Volcanoes can erupt explosively or ooze magma for weeks or even years. Either way, they can be cataclysmically destructive.

A volcanic eruption can be an awesome and destructive event. Here are some tips on how to avoid danger and what to do if you're caught near an eruption.

Safety Tips

• As much as possible, stay away from active volcanoes.

• If you live near an active volcano, keep goggles and a mask in an emergency kit, along with a flashlight and a working, battery-operated radio.

• Know your evacuation route. Keep gas in your car.

If a Volcano Erupts in Your Area

• Evacuate only as recommended by authorities to stay clear of lava, mud flows, and flying rocks and debris.

• Avoid river areas and low-lying regions.

• Before you leave the house, change into long-sleeved shirts and long pants and use goggles or eyeglasses, not contacts. Wear an emergency mask or hold a damp cloth over your face.

• If you are not evacuating, close windows and doors and block chimneys and other vents, to prevent ash from coming into the house.

• Be aware that ash may put excess weight on your roof and need to be swept away. Wear protection during cleanups.

• Ash can damage engines and metal parts, so avoid driving. If you must drive, stay below 35 miles (56 kilometers) an hour.

Volcanoes 101 Volcanoes are as dangerous as they are majestic. Over 50 eruptions rock our planet every year. This video helps you understand what causes volcanoes to form and erupt—and shows where they are most likely to be found.