Experiencing Hawaii Volcanic Activity Safely

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Image result for Hawaii Volcanic ActivityWhen you visit Hawaii, particularly the Big Island, you’ll probably want to take an afternoon to explore volcano phenomena. After all, this is one of those amazing, magical things that you probably can’t do back home whenever you get a whim to do so. While visiting these areas there are some things that you should keep in mind for your safety, which is what we’ll go over here. This information is important if you plan on visiting Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park or other volcanic areas during your stay in Hawaii (Maui has plenty volcanic areas as well, particularly in the South).
Of course, if you’re like most people you probably think “lava” as soon as you hear volcano and safety in the same sentence. There is much more to it than that, though. In fact, lava probably poses the least danger for anyone who is thinking safety and using common sense. Hiking over lava, Some people may laugh and think you’re kidding, but it’s actually quite a memorable experience that is enjoyed by many.
Did you know there are two kinds of lava, A’a and pahoehoe are the types of lava that can be found here. The black pahoehoe lava that’s hardened is the kind you’re going to want to cross, not a’a. At the end of Chain of Craters Road is where you’ll find a spot that can be safely explored when there are active flows going on. Always wear pants and clothes that offer some kind of protection, because the main danger is how sharp this lava can be. As you’re crossing the lava, be careful of your footing and pay attention to where you are walking. Injury can occur quickly with a fall and it’s not hard to lose your footing here. Also keep a close eye on the thickness of the surface you’re crossing. Drink plenty of water since the heat here can leave you quickly dehydrated.
If you’re going to try to get a look at active Hawaii lava flows, be aware that the temperature averages about 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. Many times you can get close enough to get a good look and get some pictures, but don’t try to push it. With this kind of heat, you’ll not be able to get too close to it. There are National Park boundaries that are constructed for everyone’s safety while keeping your experience in mind. These boundaries are usually plenty close enough while still keeping you a safe distance from dangerous areas. Never venture beyond them out of curiosity or you’re likely to end up in facing a situation you never want to face (fatal steam plumes, dangerous gas, and extreme explosions are only some of what these boundaries could be keeping you away from).
Besides the more obvious reasons to adhere to the Park’s boundaries, there are also deadly volcanic gases that form. This gas particularly will form where the lava connects with the sea. Then you have vog, a combination of particles including water vapor, sulfur dioxide gas, dust, carbon dioxide. If you have any type of respiratory problem, this will likely affect you most. However, it can cause irritation and burning in the nose, eyes, and mouth and should be avoided when possible. It looks like a cloud moving from the volcano close to the ground. You can find out about vog conditions before venturing out by calling 808-885-7143.
Experiencing volcanic areas first-hand is a surreal experience and shouldn’t be feared. Millions of visitors and residents enjoy these trips; just go prepared and informed.

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