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Health Effects and Protective Measures

Potential Health Effects of Volcanic Ash

  • General respiratory and breathing problems with short-term symptoms such as runny nose, sore throat, chest tightness and dry cough.
  • Breathing difficulty for sensitive people such as children, the elderly and those with respiratory conditions.
  • Eye irritations and minor skin problems.
  • Injuries or deaths from roof collapse or automobile accidents that may result from slippery roads and poor visibility.

Precautions- What you can do

  • Minimize exposure to airborne ash. Stay indoors as much as possible.
  • If you have asthma or other respiratory condition, make sure you have adequate medication, follow your asthma or respiratory diseases management plan and contact your doctor if you are having breathing or other health related problems.
  • Keep all doors and windows closed when ash fall is heavy.
  • Protect your home from ash infiltration with the use of damp curtains, blankets, cloth or like materials.
  • Keep pets and livestock in closed shelters.
  • If you must go outside, wear a protective face mask. Note: Face masks may make breathing more difficult for persons with existing respiratory conditions. Remain inside until ash clears if you have a respiratory ailment.
  • If no protective face mask is available, improvise! Wear a fabric mask made from handkerchiefs, cloth or clothing to filter out larger ash particles. Dampen fabric with water to improve effectiveness.
  • Wear googles or eye glasses to protect eyes from irritation.
  • When cleaning up ash outside, wear long sleeves and pants and a face mask. Dampen ash in your yard to prevent it from billowing up into the air and make cleanup less hazardous. When cleaning up ash, do not use tools that may stir it up.
  • Clear your roof of ash. Ash is heavy and can cause a roof to collapse. Be very cautious when working on the roof. Ash can be slippery and make it easy for you to fall.
  • Observe the traffic notifications and road safety measures when travelling in affected areas.
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