​Volcanic Ash Preparedness

More than 50 Alaskan volcanoes have been active since 1700, and a few have erupted dozens of times during this time period. The Alaska Peninsula, Kodiak Island, Kenai Peninsula, and Cook Inlet are the most likely areas in the state to experience ash fall from a volcanic eruption.

While volcanoes are located in other areas, ash may be carried some distance away during an explosive eruption. Ash fall causes air quality issues and can damage the lungs of small infants, the elderly, the infirm, or those already suffering from respiratory illnesses. An ash cloud may reduce sunlight. Heavy ash fall can clog watercourses, sewage plants, and various machinery. Ash is heavy; a heavy ash fall can cause structural damage to buildings. Ash is extremely slippery, hampering both driving and walking.

To learn more about Alaska volcanoes visit the
Alaska Volcano Observatory website. 

Volcanic Ash Information Documents:

Guidelines on Preparedness Before, During, and After an Ashfall

The Health Hazards of Volcanic Ash

Volcanic Ash 2-page Brochure

Protect Yourself from Volcanic Ash (Youth Information Sheet)



Plan for a Volcanic Eruption:

Develop a Family Disaster Plan and include specific preparedness procedures for volcanoes.

Other helpful websites include: MOA Department of Health & Human Services, Air Quality; Volcano Information.

Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit

Visit the Red Cross Disaster Supplies Kit website for general supplies information. Volcanic eruption-specific supplies should include the following:

  • Goggles;
  • Gloves;
  • N95 breathing masks (CDC Recommended) for each member of the household.

How to Protect Yo​​urself During Ashfall

Volcanic ash is actually fine, glassy fragments and particles that can cause severe injury to breathing passages, eyes, open wounds, and irritation to skin.

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Use goggles to protect your eyes.
  • Wear eyeglasses instead of contact lenses.
  • Use a dust mask or hold a damp cloth over your face to assist in breathing. 
  • Keep vehicle engines off.

How to Protect Your Pets from Ash fall

  • Keep pets indoors as much as possible.
  • If pets go out, brush or vacuum them before letting them back inside; do not let pets track ash inside the house.
  • Do not let them get wet, or try to wash the ash off of them.
  • Keep extra pet food available that is clean and dry.

What to Do After a Volcanic Eruption

  • Help a neighbor who may require special assistance - infants, elderly people, and people with disabilities. The elderly disabled may require additional assistance. People who care for them or who have large families may need additional assistance in emergency situations.
  • If possible, stay away from volcanic ashfall areas. The fine, glassy particles of volcanic ash can increase the health risk to children and people with existing respiratory conditions such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, or emphysema.
  • If possible, stay indoors until local health officials advise it is safe to go outside.
  • When outside, protect yourself from the fine, glassy particles of volcanic ash.
    • Cover your mouth and nose.
    • Wear goggles to protect your eyes.
    • Wear eyeglasses instead of contact lenses.
    • Keep skin covered to avoid irritation from contact with ash.
  • Sweep roofs of ash. Do not wash off. Ashfall is very heavy and can cause buildings to collapse, especially if it is wet. Exercise great caution when working on a roof.
  • If you have a respiratory ailment, avoid contact with any amount of ash. Stay indoors until local health officials advise it is safe to go outside. Volcanic ash can cause great damage to breathing passages and the respiratory system.

Additional Information & Preparedness Links​

  1. Current Activity for all Alaska Volcanoes
    Alaska Volcano Observatory
  2. Volcano Air Quality Information
    Anchorage Department of Health & Human Services
  3. “VOLCANIC ASH…What it Can Do and How to Prevent Damage” (U.S. Department of Interior) 
  4. Anchorage Emergency Conditions Information Line: 343-4701
  5. Anchorage Air Quality Conditions Hotline: 343-4899