Metro Manila and nearby provinces are currently experiencing ashfall due to the phreatic eruption of Taal Volcano. A phreatic eruption, also called a phreatic explosion, ultravulcanian eruption or steam-blast eruption, occurs when magma heats groundwater or surface water.
Ashfall was felt in Las Pinas roughly an hour after the initial eruption of Taal Volcano this afternoon. I was out in our garden working on stuff when I initially felt dust falling. I found it odd because whoever feels dust falling on them?
So, why doe it matter if there is ashfall?
Volcanic ash is abrasive, making it an irritant to eyes and lungs. Ashfall can cause minor to major damage to vehicles and buildings, contaminate water supplies, disrupt sewage and electrical systems, and damage or kill vegetation.
Acidic ash can also damage vegetation, leading to crop failure. In most eruptions, volcanic ash causes relatively few health problems, but generates much anxiety. People can be more fearful of the health hazards of volcanic ash and gases than of the risk of dying from more major hazards, such as pyroclastic flows.
So what do you need to know?
1. Cover your nose and mouth. If you can get an N95 mask, better. If not, get the surgical mask. You can put 2 layers of tissue between your face and a regular Dura mask. This improves the ability to filter tiny dust particles up to about 75 – 90%, almost the same as an N95 mask. You can also use wet wipes instead of tissue.
2. Make sure you are updated. Listen to the news and check on Twitter to know what's happening.
3. Close all windows and doors. Even if you have a screen door, the dust are microparticles that can go through even screen doors.
4. Cover your food. Wash it before cooking.
5. Wear glasses or goggles. Use an umbrella when going outside to minimize dust particles on your body and head. Wear a jacket too because the micro ashes can cause skin irritation.
6. As much as possible, make sure that your pets are in a safe space.
7. Drive slowly or better yet, do not go out unless absolutely necessary.
8. Damp clothing will be your best friend. Have one nearby to ensure you have something to breathe on in case you don't have a face mask.
If there are elderly people in the house or babies, make sure you put damp clothing in the cracks of your door and windows to ensure their safety.
9. Make sure you clear your roof of ash. Ashfall can easily escalate in terms of heaviness. Dust it off every few hours or so. Do not wash it off. It will harden and clog your gutters and sewers.
10. Humidifers and diffusers help clean the air. Put some peppermint essential oils to help you breathe better.
11. If you feel pain when breathing after being exposed to ashfall, consult a doctor immediately.
Stay safe everyone! Pray hard.
PS. Get this type of N95 mask if possible. It has filters for added security.