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How to Survive… A VOLCANIC ERUPTION
Volcanoes can be so rude. One minute they’re just sitting there behaving themselves, the next they’re belching and hurling all sorts of nasty stuff from their insides. And unfortunately, you can’t tell a volcano to just chill. Use these survival tips when a volcano decides to blow:
• Be a Magma Monitor
Just like your little sister’s annoying tantrums, volcanoes give warning signs. Scientists monitor these closely, so if you’re planning to hike a volcano, check with the U.S. Geological Survey to see if your mountain is about to become a monster.
• Rocks ‘N’ Roll
Volcanoes are full of surprises—dangerous ones that spew out when they erupt. If you’re caught in a hailstorm of red-hot rocks and can’t find shelter, make like a roly-poly bug: Curl yourself into a ball and protect your head and neck.
• Hold Your Breath
Smell that fresh air! On second thought, don’t! Erupting volcanoes emit poisonous carbon dioxide gases, so strap on your breathing mask while you look for shelter. Once you get inside, seal up all the doors and windows tight. Head for the highest floor possible, or at least stand on some fur- niture. CO2 tends to collect near the ground, so find another place besides the floor for your volcano sleepover.
• Surf’s Up!
That wave of lava headed your way is not going to be fun to surf on. Lava can travel at 100 to 200 miles (161 to 322 km) an hour and can reach temperatures of 2,200 ºF (1,204 ºC). Unless you want to be toast (make that burnt toast!), get out of its way—fast. A ditch or creek in between you and the lava can help divert the flow away from you.
• Here’s Mud In Your Eye
Then again, you may have bigger problems than superhot lava. Eruptions can trigger lahars—fast-flowing mixtures of melted snow, volcanic ash, and soil that will feel like a brick wall when it hits you. If it doesn’t boil you alive, it might make you look like a cartoon character that’s been flattened by a steamroller. Better get out of its way!