The Emergency Management Blog

May is Volcano Preparedness Month!

Mount BakerHow can you prepare for a volcanic eruption?

The active Cascade volcanoes, including our own Mount Baker, that make our state so beautiful could erupt sometime in the future. How can you prepare for a volcanic eruption? How will you react if one of Washington’s volcanoes erupts?

Volcano preparedness month is a time to inform yourself about volcanic hazards and to make a plan to keep you and your family safe in case of a volcanic eruption or lahar (volcanic mudflow). To help you, we have created a new booklet about volcanic hazards in Washington. Learn about lahars, how to stay safe from ashfall, and how to get information in case of an eruption. See what items you might need in your emergency kit. You can download the booklet by clicking on the image below:

Volcanic Hazards Poster Opens in new window

Be ready for the next volcanic event.

There will be some indication that a volcano may erupt, but the time between the earliest indications of unrest and eruptive activity might be short, from days to weeks or months. The United States Geological Survey Volcano Hazards Program and its monitoring partners work to detect the earliest signals of volcanic unrest to forewarn communities at-risk and provide time for officials to activate emergency response plans and mitigation measures that can save lives and protect property. Because eruptions typically go through episodic cycles of increased activity and relative quiet after they begin, Volcano Hazards Program scientists monitor volcanic behavior very closely to determine when it is safe to declare an eruption is over. In some cases, like in Hawaii, eruptions can continue for several tens of years.

We are all in this together. Everyone has a role in preparedness.

For more information, contact the Whatcom County Sheriff's Office Division of Emergency Management, (360) 676-6681. You can also visit our Volcanic Hazards Page.

WWU, City, and County collaborate on first-ever Disaster Awareness and Preparedness Survey (And you can participate online!)

CERT and Western Student Interview CitizenWestern Washington University Resilience Institute is partnering with the City of Bellingham Office of Emergency Management and the Whatcom CountySheriff’s Office Division of Emergency Management to launch a disaster awareness and preparedness survey in Whatcom County.  

Every year for the next 3-5 years, WWU students studying disaster risk reduction planning will survey residents about their household and community preparedness. Students will also examine the risk awareness and preparedness. As the project progresses, the data they collect will be used to improve community outreach and preparedness for earthquakes, floods, fires, storms and other significant disasters. 

The survey teams will survey different areas of the city and county each year by going door to door to ask residents to participate. This method will establish baseline awareness and preparedness and evaluate changes over time. Progress in increasing awareness and preparedness from this survey will be evaluated through year-over-year comparisons of results.

To take the online survey, visit Participants who complete the survey can enter to win one of several $25 gift certificates or prepaid VISA cards.  For more information on the survey, contact Dr. Rebekah Paci-Green with the Department of Environmental Studies, Resilience Institute at Western Washington University at 360-650-2707 or email