Before, During and After

A volcano is an opening in the Earth’s crust that allows molten rock, gases, and debris to escape to the surface. The Alaska Peninsula, Kodiak Island, Kenai Peninsula and Cook Inlet areas are the most likely to be covered with volcanic ash, which is actually pulversized rock from the volcanic explosion.  Fresh volcanic ash may be harsh, acidic, gritty, and smell like sulphur.  Volcanic ash can travel 100s of miles and cause severe health problems.

A volcanic eruption can:

  • Contaminate water supplies.
  • Damage heaters, water heaters, boilers, machinery and electronics.
  • Reduce visibility from heavy ash fall that can block out the sunlight.
  • Make it hard to breathe and irritate the skin, eyes, nose, and throat.


During a volcanic eruption

Volcano graphic

KPB Joint Information Hub
for multi-agency incident information

Listen for emergency information and alerts. Sign up for KPB Alerts for critical information during emergencies.

Stay indoors if possible. Keep pets indoors as much as possible.

Close doors, windows and dampers

Avoid burning woodstoves or fireplaces.

Do not run exhaust fans or clothes dryers.

Ensure air intake for heating, ventilation and cooling systems are protected from ash.  Not only do you not want these systems to pull ash into your home but these systems may pull combustion air from outside and cause damage and potentially stop the unit from working. Review your owner's manual for how to prevent damage to your heating, ventilation and cooling systems.

Vacuum furniture, carpets, etc and try not to wipe, as ash will scratch.

Laundry-brush, shake, and presoak clothes. Use plenty of water and detergent; do not use hand or body soap as it tends to gum up with ash. If you have been working in ashfall, have your work clothes laundered at work or outside the home.

Cover and don't use personal computers, stereos, and other sensitive equipment.

Information on Volcano status and eruptions?

Visit the Alaska Volcano Observatory
USGS Volcano Hazards Program current volcano activity map
Volcanoes Fact Sheet


Be Safe After

Listen to authorities to find out whether it is safe to return.Visit KPB Joint Information Hub for information during disasters.

Send text messages or use social media to reach out to family and friends. Phone systems are often overloaded after a disaster especially in Alaska. Only make emergency calls.

Avoid driving in heavy ash. Driving will stir up volcanic ash that can clog engines and stall vehicles.

If you have any breathing problems, avoid contact with ash. Stay indoors until authorities say it is safe to go outside.

Wear a respirator and goggles during ash cleanup.

When sweeping, dampen to avoid raising unnecessary dust.

Mow lawns when damp and bag lawn clippings to reduce dust.

Review this Ash Alert Brochure for information during and after ashfall.


Before a volcanic eruption

  1. How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings?
  2. What is my shelter plan?
  3. What is my evacuation route?
  4. What is my family/household communication plan?

Know your area’s risk from volcanic eruption. The Kenai Peninsula Borough's biggest risk is from ash.

Investigate how your heating system, boiler, and/or water heater pulls air into system. Many of these systems pull air from outside for combustion which could damage these systems. Review your manufacturer information for how to protect your system from ash during a volcanic eruption.

Learn about community warning systems. Register for KPB Alerts to receive critical information during emergencies.
The Volcano Notification Service (VNS) is a free service that sends notifications about volcanic activity. Sign up for alerts here.

Create a shelter-in-place plan, in the Kenai Peninsula Borough the biggest risk is from ash.

Consult your doctor if you have existing respiratory difficulties.