Role of the NDPRAC
The National Disaster Preparedness and Response Advisory Committee (NDPRAC) manages natural disasters which affect Montserrat. It comprises mainly the Governor, Government of Montserrat (GoM), the Disaster Management Coordination Agency (DMCA) and the Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO). When there is a change in volcanic activity, the following procedure occurs:
- The MVO advises the other members of the NDPRAC on changes in volcanic activity whether the latter increases or decreases.
- The NDPRAC then uses this information to determine the appropriate Hazard Level, based on the Hazard Level System (HLS).
- The DMCA communicates this information to the public.
Each Hazard Level has corresponding access restrictions for various zones, which will be enforced by the authorities.
There are two main types of evacuations related to volcanic activity in Montserrat:
- Slow increase of volcanic activity (normal route). The MVO meets with the NDPRAC to advise the Committee of the changes in volcanic activity. The NDPRAC uses this information to decide on the appropriate action to be taken.
- Rapid and hazardous increase of volcanic activity. If the MVO detects unusual or unexpected changes of activity that may imminently affect populated areas and there is not enough time to call a NDPRAC meeting, the MVO directly alerts the police service which then rings the evacuation siren for specific areas.
Before a volcanic eruption:
- Know where the volcano is located and know where the major drainage valleys are in relation to where you live.
- Prepare an emergency plan that all family members can understand. This should include:
- Selecting an evacuation route to get to high ground away from the volcano. It is also a good idea to have an alternate route in mind.
- Deciding on a meeting point in the event that family members are separated, e.g. during the day when adults are at work and children are at school.
- Selecting a close friend or relative who should be contacted if children cannot reach their parents and vice-versa.
- Locating the emergency shelter that is closest to your home.
- Ensure that you and your family understand the Hazard Level System(HLS) and that you know what actions should be taken on hearing the sirens. The DMCA can provide additional information on this. Maps for the HLS are available at the airport, the Police stations in Brades and Salem, the Montserrat Tourist Board, the Montserrat Volcano Observatory and the DMCA.
- Emergency items and equipment such as a first aid kit, fire extinguisher, flashlights, breathing masks, a battery-operated radio, batteries, cash, medication for chronic conditions, canned foods and bottled water should be well stocked and in good working condition.
- Get a pair of goggles and a disposable breathing mask (ash mask) for each member of the family.
Have an updated list of emergency numbers including:
- DMCA 491-7166
- Police 999
- Fire & Rescue Service 911
- St. John's Hospital 491-2802
During a volcanic eruption
- Follow the evacuation instructions issued by the DMCA. A specific siren will be triggered to indicate that people should immediately tune in to Radio Montserrat (ZJB, 95.5/88.3FM) for updates on volcanic activity and actions to be taken;
- Avoid areas downwind of the volcano;
- Bring all animals and livestock into closed shelter;
- Close all windows and doors;
- Put all machinery inside a garage.
- Seek shelter indoors;
- Avoid low-lying areas where poisonous gases can collect and flash floods can be most dangerous (e.g., the Belham Valley);
- Beware of mudflows (lahars). These powerful ΓÇÿrivers' of mud can move faster than people can run. A powerful mudflow can destroy houses and even bridges;
- Protect yourself by wearing long sleeved shirts and pants, using goggles to protect your eyes and using a dust-mask (ash mask) or damp cloth over your face to help you to breathe properly;
- Stay out of the exclusion zone; DO NOT attempt to go have a look at the erupting volcano.
After a volcanic eruption
- Listen to Radio Montserrat (95.5/88.3FM ZJB) or television for the latest emergency information;
- Avoid volcanic ash deposits, e.g. ash or mudflows. These are extremely dangerous and should not be explored.
- Cover your mouth and nose with breathing masks or a damp cloth. Inhaling volcanic ash can be very dangerous to your health;
- Wear goggles to protect your eyes;
- Keep your skin covered with long sleeved shirts and long pants to avoid irritation or burns;
- Avoid driving in heavy ash fall since it can clog engines and stall vehicles;
- Carefully clear roofs of ash because accumulated ash is very heavy and can cause roofs to collapse.
- Do not engage phone lines with non-emergency calls.
Links to other volcano safety information:
The Health Hazards of Volcanic Ash - A guide for the public (IVHHN)