What Hawaii’s Volcano Eruption Means?
No matter where you live, extreme weather and natural disasters can strike without warning–and despite our best efforts to be prepared, the results can often be devastating. For the last month, the entire country has watched as an active volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island continues to cause destruction and heartache in a land that many people consider synonymous with paradise. The increased volcanic activity and accompanying earthquakes have displaced thousands of residents, left up to a quarter of the island without power, and created a number of potentially serious health and safety concerns.
Kilauea Volcano is one of the most active in the world, with its last eruption cycle beginning in 1983. Volcanic activity has continued steadily for the last 35 years, and scientists are unsure whether this latest event is part of the same cycle or the start of a new one. So far, CNBC reports that nearly 120 people have lost their homes, and approximately 2,500 residents have been forced to evacuate as the volcano continues to spew lava and sulfur dioxide. And it doesn’t seem to be slowing down: According to researchers at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, molten material has shot up to 200 feet in the air, and new fissures have recently opened.
Kilauea’s ongoing activity has created significant health concerns for surrounding communities. Daily explosions at the volcano’s summit fill the air with ash, and airborne volcanic glass fibers called “Pele’s hair,” named for the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes, offer an additional hazard. Then there’s the “laze”–a mash-up of “lava” and “haze”–which is a poisonous mixture of toxic gas, steam, and volcanic glass that’s created when 2,000-degree lava hits seawater. Laze can damage lungs and irritate eyes and skin, and in some cases it can be deadly.
If you or someone you know is caught in a disaster–whether it’s a hurricane, storm, fire, or something equally unpredictable–being prepared is your best line of defense. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers guidelines for averting illness or injury following a disaster, including taking precautions against carbon monoxide poisoning; following safety instructions for all power tools; avoiding electrical and drowning hazards; taking care to prevent fires; staying away from damaged structures; and remaining alert to possible gas leaks. Still, despite our best efforts, sometimes injury is unavoidable – and in those cases, you want an experienced attorney on your side. If you’ve been hurt in a disaster–natural or manmade work or off the job–call our team.