The Yellowstone Supervolcano is a Disaster Waiting to Happen3 min read



Before an Eruption:


  • Be prepared to take shelter or evacuate and review your plans with family members.

  • Pick a safe place to meet.

  • Put together an emergency supply kit. Roll over the photo for more details.

If you evacuate:

  • Tune in the radio or television for volcano updates. If told to evacuate do so. It can be dangerous to wait out an eruption.

  • Listen for disaster sirens and warning signals.

  • Take only essential items. Be sure to pack at least a one-week supply of prescription medications.

  • Fill your vehicle’s gas tank.

  • If no vehicle is available, make arrangements with friends or family for transportation, or follow authorities’ instructions on where to obtain transportation.

  • Turn off the gas, electrity and water.

  • Disconnect appliances to reduce likelihood of electrical shock when power is restored.

    Follow designation evacuation routes and expect heavy traffic and delays.

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If you take shelter:

  • Keep listening to your radio or watch television until you are told all is safe or you are told to evacuate.

  • Local authorities may evacuate specific areas at greatest risk in your community.

  • Close and lock all windows and outside doors.

  • Place damp towels at door thresholds and other draft sources. Tape draughty windows.

  • Turn off all heating and air conditioning systems and fans.

  • Close fireplace and furnace dampers.

  • Organize your emergency supplies and make sure all household members know where the supplies are located.

  • Fill your clean water containers.

  • Fill sinks and bathtubs with water as an extra supply for washing.

  • Make sure the radio is working.

  • Go to an interior room without windows that is above ground level.

  • Ensure pets and livestock have clean food, water and shelter.

  • Store all vehicles and machinery in a garage or other shelter.

  • Call your emergency contact – a friend or family member who does not live near the volcano – and have the phone available if you need to report a life-threatening condition.

  • Remember that communication services may be overwhelmed or damaged during an emergency.

During an Eruption

  • Don’t panic – stay calm.

  • Follow evacuation orders, if issued by authorities.

  • Stay indoors.

  • Avoid areas downwind and river valleys downstream of the volcano.

  • If outside, seek shelter (e.g. car or building).

  • Keep doors, windows, dampers and ventilation closed until the ash settles.

  • Use a respiratory mask, handkerchief or cloth over your nose and mouth.

  • Do not tie up phone lines with non-emergency calls.

  • Listen to your local radio for information on the eruption and cleanup plans.

  • If there is ash in your water, let it settle and then use the clear water. Water contaminated by ash will usually make drinking water unpalatable before it presents a health risk.

  • You may eat vegetables from the garden, but wash them first.

  • Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance – infants, elderly people and people with access and functional needs.

After an Eruption

  • Go to a designated public shelter if you feel it is unsafe to remain in your home.

  • Stay indoors until the ash has settled, unless there is a danger of the roof collapsing.

  • Keep all heating and air conditioning units and fans turned off, and windows, doors, and fireplace and woodstove dampers closed.

  • Clear heavy ash from flat or low-pitched roofs and rain gutters.

  • Let family members know you are safe.

  • Listen to the radio, watch TV or check the Internet often for official updates and information about air quality, drinking water and road conditions.

  • Avoid running vehicle engines. Volcanic ash can clog engines, damage moving parts and stall vehicles.

  • Avoid driving in heavy ash fall unless absolutely required. If you need to drive, keep speed down to 50 km per hour or slower.

  • Protect yourself from ash by wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants, using googles and a respiratory mask.

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