Today In History: A Big Blast

Fun fact: Volcanoes are named for Vulcan, the Roman god of fire, said to be a master blacksmith who dwelled under Mt. Etna and made it erupt with his anger whenever his wife (the more famous Venus) was unfaithful.* 
Definitely not fun fact: Twenty-nine years ago today our own local volcano, Mt. St. Helens, blew its top (or more accurately, its top and part of its side).  

And while it’s been fairly quiet in recent years (just slowly building a little dome…of molten hot rock), it’s not guaranteed to stay that way. That’s why we posted preparedness tips for you at
Before a volcano you should:
Learn about your community warning systems and emergency plans.

Be prepared for the hazards that can accompany volcanoes:

* Mudflows and flash floods
* Landslides and rockfalls
* Earthquakes
* Ashfall and acid rain
* Tsunamis

Make evacuation plans. If you live in a known volcanic hazard area, plan a route out and have a backup route in mind.

Develop an emergency communication plan. In case family members are separated from one another during a volcanic eruption (a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school), have a plan for getting back together. Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the “family contact,” because after a disaster, it’s often easier to call long distance. Make sure everyone knows the name, address, and phone number of the contact person.

Have disaster supplies on hand:

* Flashlight and extra batteries
* First aid kit and manual
* Emergency food and water
* Non-electric can opener
* Essential medicines
* Dust mask
* Sturdy shoes

For more on what to do during and after an eruption, see the handy page. 
Also, for eyewitness stories from the Mt. St. Helens eruption, you can go to the Mt. St. Helens Institute’s “Volcano Views and Brews” event tomorrow night at the Lucky Lab NW. This month’s presentation is titled: “Dark at Noon: Eyewitness Chronicles of Mount St. Helens—18 May 1980” with Richard Waitt.

*Okay, so I guess this fact was fun for everybody but Vulcan and people in the general vicinity Mt. Etna.

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