The DomiDocs Guide to Volcano Eruption Preparedness

“People never believe in volcanoes until the lava actually overtakes them.”

– philosopher George Santayana

Many of us as homeowners like to go about our daily lives and neglect to recognize dangerous scenarios that can be lurking right in front of us, such as with a seemingly beautiful volcano set along the horizon. But unfortunately, the danger is real, so let’s make sure you’re well prepared.


Are you ready for this?

According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), Mount St. Helens, WA, is the most likely volcano in the Cascades to erupt again, with the average eruption interval being every 100–300 years. The USGS volcano threat assessment also ranks Kīlauea on the Big Island of Hawaii and Mount Rainier in Washington in the top 3 volcanoes that are most likely to erupt.


Volcano stats.

Why do volcanoes erupt? Although many factors contribute to a volcanic eruption, has identified 3 predominate triggers: 

  • the buoyancy of the magma (the molten/semi-molten material from which igneous rocks are made)
  • the pressure from the exsolved gases in the magma
  • the injection of a new batch of magma into an already filled magma chamber

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that, ”Volcanic eruptions can result in additional threats to health, such as floods, mudslides, power outages, drinking water contamination, and wildfires.”

While many of us routinely think of Hawaii when it comes to active volcanoes, it may be surprising to learn that 4 states have more volcanic activity than the Aloha State. According to, these are the states with the most active volcanoes:


Volcano eruption categories defined.

The USGS explains that geologists categorize volcanic eruptions using several different factors including:

  • Eruption Types – volcanic eruptions can be steam-driven without the presence of magma; can include magma; or can result when ground/surface waters collide with magma
  • Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) – the VEI assigns a number value (from 0 to 8) to describe the magnitude and intensity of a volcanic eruption (see below)
  • Volcanic Style or Descriptive Classification
Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) Ejecta Volume km3 (mi3) Column Height km (mi) Description Volcano Types Historical Examples
0.00001 (0.000002)
<0.1 (0.06)
Many shield volcanoes (noted for their low profile shield appearance)
Kilauea, Mauna Loa (Hawaii Volcanoes NP
0.001 (0.0002)
1 (0.6)
Many shield volcanoes/cinder cones (a steep conical formation)
2020: Kilauea, Mauna Loa (Hawaii Volcanoes NP
0.01 (0.002)
5 (3)
Mostly cinder cones
2006: Fourpeaked (Katmai NP & Preserve)
0.1 (0.02)
15 (9)
Mostly cinder cones
1912: Katmai (Katmai NP & Preserve)
1 (0.2)
25 (16)
Few cinder cones; composite volcanoes consisting of multiple layers
1931: Aniakchak NM
10 (2)
>25 (16)
Composite volcanoes
1980: Mount St. Helens
100 (20)
>25 (16)
Calderas (cauldron-like hollow areas that are present after a magma chamber empties)
1912: Novarupta (Katmai NP & Preserve)
1,000 (200)
>25 (16)
7,550 years ago: Mount Mazama (Crater Lake NP)
>1,000 (>200)
>25 (16)
Super volcanoes/calderas
640,000 years ago: Yellowstone NP

It’s important to note that every interval on the VEI scale represents a ten-fold increase in volcanic eruption size. states: “During a volcanic eruption, lava and other debris can flow at speeds of up to 100 mph, destroying everything in their path.”

Is there a time of year when most volcanic eruptions occur in the US?

According to an article published in the scientific journal, Terra Nova, there’s a possibility that volcanic eruptions are linked to the Earth’s rotation rate, which varies seasonally by speeding up during summer in the northern hemisphere and slowing down in winter. So while there may not be an exact season, scientists can predict impending volcanic activity ranging from days to weeks in advance.

How DomiDocs can help you navigate through a storm.

The keys to helping you weather any natural disaster are always going to be the same: knowledge and organization. It basically comes down to homeowner responsibility and doing your due diligence to protect both your family and your home before a disaster strikes. Use the secure, award-winning DomiDocs homeowner platform to:

  • upload a detailed home inventory list itemizing your home’s contents including receipts, photos, and videos of your home’s current condition
  • store and catalog your proprietary household paperwork using the Insurance Document Bundle feature where your insurance policies are listed to show the company, coverage, cost, and start- and end-date of each, displayed with a calendar timeline for quick reference when needed. Besides for your own use, you can share with your insurance agent at the touch of a button if need to file an insurance claim
  • work your way through our comprehensive DomiDocs New Homeowner Guide offering best use instructions to help prevent homeowner claims


The basics of volcano eruption preparedness.

In short, the CDC,, and the American Red Cross state you should do the following basics:

Before a volcanic eruption, take the time to:
Determine your personal volcano risk.
Do you know if you live in a volcano-prone zone? Contact your local government/emergency planning office for shelter and evacuation plans. Be sure to sign up for the Volcano Notification Service which provides warnings about volcanic activity. The Hawaiian Islands have established January as Volcano Awareness Month.
Be aware of the risks a volcanic eruption can impose.

Exposure to ash can cause health problems, especially respiratory damage such as irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat areas. Along with ash, a volcanic eruption can bring about acid rain, spews of rock, lava, and dangerous gases. Water supplies can become contaminated. Reduced visibility will occur due to harmful gases and smog, especially in low-lying regions.

Know the difference between volcano facts & fiction.

The American Red Cross has identified 4 common misconceptions about volcanoes:

  1. Fiction: Volcanoes erupt regularly. 

      Fact: While volcanoes experience periods of closely spaced eruptions followed by longer periods of quiet, most volcanoes display no regularity in eruptions.,

  1.   Fiction: Volcanoes are unpredictable and erupt without warning

      Fact: Volcanoes exude warning signs of eruption weeks to months in advance

  1.   Fiction: Lava flows are one of the most damaging hazards from volcanoes.

      Fact: This is true for Hawaii, however volcanic ash and mudflows are more prominent hazards outside Hawaii.

  1.   Fiction: Volcanic eruptions can be caused by earthquakes.

      Fact: An earthquake signals a geologically active landscape but it does not cause a volcanic eruption.

Develop an evacuation plan.

Every member of your family needs to know what your homeowner evacuation plan is. Where will you go? How will you get there? What optional evacuation routes will you have if your initial choice is blocked? Where will you stay? Knowing these basics in advance can help stem panic during an actual natural disaster situation. Have a to-go bag in place with all the supplies you’ll need, including items for your pets. If you’ll need assistance in traveling, you’ll need to confirm with someone in advance. And be sure to follow any evacuation orders that have been issued. As a family, discuss how you can help your neighbors during a natural disaster by checking in or helping them evacuate as well. Let your family and friends know you’re safe by using the American Red Cross Emergency! app/website.

Assemble disaster supplies for your family members and your pets.

A volcanic eruption will bring about an onslaught of ash and dangerous gases, so be sure to have a supply of N-95 respirators and goggles on hand for every member of your family.

The American Red Cross recommends gathering 2 emergency supply kits:

  1. A Go-Kit: with a 3-day supply of items you can carry with you, including chargers for your devices (cell phone, wheelchair, CPAP, etc.) and backup batteries; as well as non-perishable food, water, and medications. Cash is also important to have on hand as ATMs may not be working/accessible. 
  2. A Stay-at-Home Kit: with a 2-week supply of the above items.

NOAA recommends adding the following to round out your emergency disaster supply kits, where applicable:

  • masks, disinfecting wipes, and hand sanitizer
  • non-prescription medicine such as antacids, anti-diarrhea, and pain relievers
  • contact lens solution/prescription eyeglasses
  • baby bottles, formula, wipes, diapers, and diaper rash cream
  • feminine hygiene supplies
  • sleeping bags/blankets
  • a change of clothing for each family member, including sensible footwear
  • fire extinguisher
  • matches in a fireproof container
  • mess kit with plates, utensils, cups, and paper towels
  • activities for kids like puzzles, games, or books
Review/update your homeowner insurance policy.

It’s estimated that 40% of Americans can’t find an important household document when needed, so the first step is to upload your vital household documents to our user-friendly digital platform, so there’s easy access 24/7/365. Secondly, reassess your homeowner policy to ensure you have the best coverage to fit your needs. Compare the cost and coverage that you have in place, to what else is available from your current insurer and other companies. If there have been any major additions to your home and/or contents in the last year, it’s time to review your homeowner insurance policy to ensure it’ll cover your new additions. It’s good to know that according to the Insurance Information Institute, homeowner insurance policies will cover property loss/damage caused by a volcanic eruption including fire, lava flows, ash, a volcanic blast, and/or airborne shockwaves.

Make your home disaster-resistant.

Depending on where you live across America, insurance companies may reward your efforts in making your home disaster-resistant by offering discounted homeowner insurance premiums. Think storm shutters, reinforced roofing with hurricane clips/materials, and sump pumps. Upgraded plumbing systems can lessen the risk of water damage.

Have supplies on hand to make emergency repairs.

Such supplies can include plastic sheeting, tarps, sandbags, and/or plywood, plus the necessary tools to apply these to your home like a staple gun and/or duct tape

Complete a written disaster plan.

Now that you’ve got everything in place, there’s no better way to solidify it than by making a written plan, which should include regularly practicing your escape route, and maintaining your disaster prep plan supplies by replacing expired items. Ensure your plan includes a contact list, with at least one contact who lives outside the impacted area; share your disaster plan with family and friends.

Take the time to emergency life-saving skills.
The American Red Cross recommends that adults and kids around the age of nine learn first aid and CPR skills., the American Red Cross, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend the following:

When an impending volcano eruption is heading your way:
Turn off all air conditioning and heating systems/fans; close the fireplace damper.
Close and lock all doors and windows. Place damp towels around doors and windows to help keep the ash out. Take shelter in an interior room without windows that are above ground level. And if you’re not in your home, don’t return until officials say it’s safe to do so.
Fuel your vehicles. Do not drive in heavy ash conditions. If you must, don’t use the air conditioning.
Store your vehicles and machinery under cover in a garage or barn to help protect them from damaging ash, which can cause clogged air-filtration systems leading to engine failure, and extra wear when small ash particles enter your engine or transmission systems.
Proactively shut off your electricity, gas, and water utilities.
Move any livestock or animals into closed shelters to help protect them from falling ash.
Double-check your emergency supplies including bottled water, plus battery-operated flashlights and a radio.
Stay far away from areas that are downwind/downstream from the volcano as ash and debris will be carried by gravity and wind.
Monitor local news reports and emergency alerts.
If there’s a buildup of ash on your roof after an eruption, do not try to remove it yourself unless you’re trained to do so; ash is very slippery and can add overloaded weight to your roof. It’s best to call in a professional for roof clean-up.

The Problem with Insurance Companies

When you’re in the midst of dealing with a natural disaster, there’s no doubt you’ll also be dealing with your insurance company. DomiDocs CEO and Founder, William McKenna, advises to never accept your insurance company’s first settlement offer as chances are it’ll be a low-ball offer they’re just hoping you’ll take without question. Many attorneys agree that the initial offer by an insurance company should immediately be rejected. What should you do? Access your personal profile on the DomiDocs home management platform, and submit your documented receipts, photos, and videos to your insurance adjuster with just one click. Take the time to factor in missed wages, medical bills (current and future), vehicle repairs, and any other losses that occurred before accepting any settlement offers.

Never accept an insurance company’s first settlement offer: McKenna himself was initially offered a $13,500 settlement offer for damages sustained to his home’s roof by a sudden, unexpected microburst. By providing his documentation already stored in the DomiDocs Homeowner Platform, McKenna’s settlement was increased to $201,000, proving true the immeasurable value of DomiDocs.

DomiDocs has your back! Whether it’s avalanche preparedness, How To File an Insurance Claim, or mental health tips in The DomiDocs Guide: What to Do After a Hurricane Hits, we’re here for every step of your homeowner journey.

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