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Monday, 22 January 2018
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 Learn The Early Warning Signs of Natural Disasters.


You have heard the expression "Ignorance is bliss"? Well, in a survival situation, "ignorance" spells death.

Familliarizing yourself with the potential natural and man-made dangers that could occur in the location that you are living or travelling, will help you to recognize the early warning signs so that you can respond immediately.


There are thousands of volcanoes around the world in varying degrees of activity or dormancy. The vast majority of these are located around the "Ring of Fire", a circle of active volcanoes encompassing the Pacific Ocean.

The Earth's crust is a cold thin brittle layer of lower density material that literally floats on the hot elastic higher density mantle beneath it.  Convection currents from the hot liquid outer core of the earth cause some  parts of the crust to move faster than other parts, effectively breaking the surface crust into giant flakes or rafts, scientifically known as Tectonic Plates.  

When two plates collide in opposite directions, one plate is usually forced downward beneath the other (subduction). The extreme heat generated by friction under immense pressure, causes the subducted materials to become molten (magma).  The magma then begins to force its way upwards through the fractured rocks of the upper plate. As the magma rises, it pushes the overlying plate materials upwards, eventually forming a dome.

THE EARLY WARNING SIGNS. As the magma continues to rise, it heats up the surrounding rocks and materials, releasing noxious, toxic gases such as hydrogen sulfide and carbon monoxide. These gases escape to the surface through cracks (fissures) in the weakened rocks into the atmosphere either directly or bubbling up through lakes and ground water.

These will be some of the earliest observable signs of an impending erruption. A sudden increase in gas emissions means that magma is on the move, rising closer to the surface. Increasing levels of carbon monoxide will kill off the vegetation wherever the heavier than air gases collect. For example, in hollows, in small and large valley bottoms and following brooks or streams. Dead animals and birds will also be evident in these hollows and natural depressions in the ground, having been overcome by carbon monoxide poisoning. DO NOT ENTER THESE AREAS, CARBON MONOXIDE IS AN ODOURLESS SILENT KILLER.

In lakes and ponds where escaping gases and hydrogen sulfide have been released into the water, you will likely see many dead fish floating on the surface as acidity levels rise rapidly.

Earth tremmors and small quakes may also be evident as magma rises closer to the surface. If you have been unfortunate enough to have missed all broadcast warnings of an impending erruption, then do not miss these. LEAVE THE AREA AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE, AVOIDING RIVER VALLEYS  IF POSSIBLE (FLASH FLOODS). LISTEN TO ANY LOCAL RADIO STATIONS FOR ANY ADVISORY BROADCASTS AND DO NOT STOP TO LOOK BACK UNTIL YOU HAVE DISTANCED YOURSELF BY AT LEAST 10 TO 15 MILES, UPWIND.

When the magma finally reaches the surface, there are many different ways in which the volcano can errupt. Ash has been known to be ejected up into the atmosphere as high as 52,000 feet (16 Kilometers) and blanket an area to a distance of 20 miles (32 Kilometers) from the volcano. A much more deadly form of ash is the pyroclastic flow, a dense cloud of hot gases, ash and rock with temperatures between 100 and 800 degrees Celsius and travelling at speeds up to 150 kilometers per hour, choking, flattening, incinerating and burying everything in it's path. These two types of volcanic erruption give you a good idea of the immense power involved and should give you reason enough to distance yourself as far and as quickly as you can from the volcano.


Earthquakes are not yet predictable with any degree of certainty. Scientific, evidence based knowledge and current technology can only give a ballpark guestimate as to when an earthquake is geologically overdue within a hundred years or so.

Ironically, the only real predictor of an earthquake is the initial quake itself. A large quake of over magnitude 6.0, almost invariably is followed by a series of aftershocks within the first hour. The greater the magnitude of the initial shock, the greater the magnitude and number of aftershocks. The strength and frequency of aftershocks die down fairly quickly with time.

A quake with a magnitude of 5.0 to 6.0 will usually cause minor to moderate damage. A quake of 7.0 or greater, commonly results in major damage.

The sounds that you hear during an earthquake can be unsettling and will depend on how far you are away from the epicentre and the types of rocks that the sound travels through. To give you an idea, the following link will take you to the United States Geological Survey, Earthquake Hazards Program, where a sound file plays immediately on opening the web page. Make sure your speakers are turned on. The sound is more realistic with a good subwoofer speaker, or simply turn up the bass sound. 1992 Landers quake in California. The Landers quake had a magnitude of 7.3.


The only way that you can really be ready for a quake is to keep informed as to where quakes normally occur and to have prepared yourself ahead of time with readily available, adequate supplies and equipment as close at hand as possible in all the locations where you usually spend most of your time. For example, in the home, the office, the car, the Recreational Vehicle, the boat, and an emergency shelter if you have already built one. If you are travelling light, then carry a simple, light weight, basic personal survival kit. There are many examples from around the world, listed in the main Directory.


The following excellent article was published in the San Francisco Chronicle with co-authors Kathryn Drew and John Blanchard. Much of the preparedness content was sourced from "The Homeowner's Guide to Earthquake Safety" published by the Seismic Safety Commission. The local resources apply mostly to the Bay Area of San Francisco.

READY OR NOT - Even a few basic steps can help you pull through the next big earthquake ...         READ THE ARTICLE...



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