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Health and Safety Tips to Cope with Volcanic Ashfall

The ashfall from the recent explosions of Taal Volcano has affected large areas of Southern Tagalog and reached many parts of Metro Manila. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) has raised Alert Level 4 over Taal Volcano, which means that a hazardous explosive eruption is imminent.

The Department of Health (DOH) warned the public, particularly individuals with health problems such as bronchitis, emphysema or asthma, to avoid exposure to volcanic ash. According to the DOH, exposure to volcanic ashfall can cause nose and throat irritation, coughing, bronchitis-like illness, breathing discomfort, eye irritation, minor skin problems, and injury or death due to roof collapse or vehicular accident resulting from slippery roads and poor visibility. Health Secretary Duque advised anyone experiencing these symptoms to seek immediate medical attention at the nearest health facility.

The DOH offers the following tips on how to stay safe and protect your health against the harmful effects of volcanic ashfall:

  • Minimize your exposure to ash by staying indoors as much as possible.
  • Keep doors and windows closed.
  • If you have to go outside, wear N95 masks. If these are not available, wear damp towels or handkerchiefs around your nose and mouth. Wear protective clothing (e.g. jacket, long-sleeved shirt, jeans/pants), hat, shoes/sneakers, and eye gear such as goggles.
  • Make sure the water and food you consume are safe and not contaminated by ash.
  • Drive carefully if visibility is low. In case of heavy ashfall, bring extra water to clean windshield; don’t use the windshield wiper.
  • Always heed warnings and advisories from local authorities. Remain alert and prepared to evacuate if necessary.

 

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-Medical Observer

 

References:
https://www.phivolcs.dost.gov.ph/index.php/taal-volcano-bulletin-menu/9636-taal-volcano-bulletin-14-january-2020-8-00-a-m. Accessed 14 January 2020
https://www.doh.gov.ph/doh-press-release/doh-warns-public-on-taal-eruptive-activity. Accessed 14 January 2020

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