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Disaster Preparedness: What You Must Know About the Taal Volcano Eruption

Five minutes might seem trivial for a lot of us, but the five-minute eruption of a volcano can have devastating consequences. On July 1, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) placed Taal Volcano on Alert Level 3 after a “phreatomagmatic eruption from the main crater”  happened for five minutes. PHIVOLCS reported that the volcanic smog (or vog) reached up to 65 kilometers away, covering the skies of the National Capital Region in haze. 

Taal’s eruption in early 2020 is still fresh in our memory. It devastated not only the nearby communities, but also affected the neighboring regions with ashfall. Residents had to relocate. Some businesses had to close temporarily. The wake of the eruption now feels like another bullet to the heart, especially for individuals or families still recovering from the last one—not to mention the still-ongoing fight against COVID-19. 

Here’s a list of things you need to know in order to prepare, given Taal Volcano’s unrest. 

1. Know the terms. 

What does the Taal Volcano’s phreatomagmatic eruption mean? Simply put, this volcanic activity involves both new magma and water. When the lava and water meet, it becomes explosive. Aside from the possibility of destroying everything in its path, this eruption may also send ashes far and high. As a result, even regions away from Batangas may experience ash fall. At the very least, the recent phreatomagmatic eruption was not accompanied by an earthquake. 

What does Alert Level 3 mean? This implies magmatic unrest and that succeeding eruptions may happen. If those eruptions are too powerful, a volcanic tsunami may occur. With that, local authorities are closely observing changes in Taal’s lakewater for drastic changes in pH, which can help indicate strong volcanic activity. They are also implementing precautions against volcanic tsunamis. One safety measure in place is the declaration of the entire island of the volcano as a Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ). As such, people are not allowed to enter the area including the high-risk barangays of Agoncillo and Laurel.

2. Keep an eye out for updates. 

Where can you get the most recent and reliable news about Taal Volcano? Check the DOST-PHIVOLCS website for the latest bulletins. Major news stations are also constantly providing updates. You can also visit their websites and official social media platforms for news on-the-go. Another option is to watch scheduled news programs on television or livestreams on social media. 

Through these platforms, you’ll also get information on evacuation plans, emergency numbers you can contact, and more. Keep yourself and other members of the household informed and ready by taking note of these important pieces of information in case of emergencies. 

3. Keep your emergency kits stocked. 

What should you prepare in case of disasters? You may already have a lot of essentials in stock. It’s a good idea to keep one bag for each member of your household with the following in quantities good for at least three days:

  • A medical first aid kit (including prescription medications, if any)
  • Nonperishable food (examples are canned food and protein bars) 
  • Manual can opener (or a multi-tool pocket knife) 
  • Bottled, clean drinking water (ideally, at least one gallon per person per day)
  • Flashlights or portable lanterns with extra batteries
  • A crank or battery powered radio device
  • Lighters and matches
  • Dust mask and goggles
  • Blankets and spare clothes
  • Rope (at least 7 meters long)
  • Charged cell phones and power banks
  • Plastic wrap to keep ash out of electronics
  • Toiletries and sanitation supplies (such as alcohol, toilet paper, wet wipes, and soap) 
  • Pen and paper
  • Emergency contact numbers
  • Printed maps of your town or city

You might also need an emergency stash of baby food and diapers, pet food, and other items depending on your family’s needs. 

Wherever you are and no matter what happens, the best way to be prepared is to stay level-headed. Be smart about your emergency plans and maximize your resources. Don’t forget to reload your Smart Prepaid account online or purchase Smart Prepaid Call, Text and Data Cards from retailers in major malls and convenience stores to communicate with your loved ones. #StaySafe #StaySmart 

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