PSA: Here's How to Protect Yourself From Ashfall

PHIVOLCS has raised the alert status of Taal Volcano to Alert Level 4.

(SPOT.ph) The Philippines is on high alert after Taal Volcano had a phreatic explosion, a.k.a. a steam-driven explosion, around 1 p.m. on January 12. As of 7:30 p.m., the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has raised the alarm to Alert Level 4. "This means that hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days," according to the advisory

A view of the ash column from Batangas.
PHOTO Courtesy of Michelle Calma
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The resulting spew of ash from the volcano has reached parts of Metro Manila, with the Department of Health issuing an advisory on the health effects of ashfall. Among the listed health effects include nose, throat, and eye irritation, coughing, minor skin problems, discomfort while breathing, bronchitis-like symptoms, and even injuries or death due to roof collapse or vehicular accident resulting from slippery roads and poor visibility.

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A police car in Bonifacio Global City is seen covered with ash on the evening of January 12.
PHOTO BY Jamie Sanchez

According to the advisory, it's best to minimize exposure to ash so staying indoors is recommended. Don't forget to keep all doors and windows closed! Check the list below for what else to do:

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  • Keep home from infiltration by using damp curtains, blankets, or clothing
  • Use dust masks
  • Wear goggles or eyeglasses to protect eyes from irritation
  • Keep pets in closed shelter
  • Clear your roof of ash
  • Observe traffic notifications and road safety measure
A view of the ash column from a window in Silang, Cavite.
PHOTO courtesy of asha Singh-de Vera

Volcanic ash, despite the name, is far from the soft flakes we usually associate it with. In an article by National Geographic, it is described as a "mixture of rock, mineral, and glass particles expelled from a volcano during a volcanic eruption." 

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All flights in and out of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport have been cancelled for January 12. Classes in all levels have also been suspended in most cities of Metro Manila.

While no one can say for sure what the next few hours, or days, may bring, it's best to always choose to be safe. The colossal explosion of Mount Pinatubo in 1991 has not been forgotten, so here's hoping we won't have to relive those days anytime soon. 

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