The Ministry of Health and Wellness has released an advisory to citizens of Saint Lucia in wake of the ongoing developments of the La Soufriere Volcano in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
In the release, the Ministry informed that ashfall is the most likely volcanic hazard, which can result in eye, skin and breathing problems. Exposure to ashfall can result in cough, breathlessness, chest tightness, and wheezing due to irritation of the lining of the airways by fine particles.
A list of guidelines under various headings to assist in protecting people against the harmful effects of ash fall was also provided in the release and included:
STAY INDOORS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE
Remain indoors as much as possible, especially if you have breathing problems like
bronchitis or asthma.
If you must go outside:
– Use a mask or handkerchief for breathing (or a damp cloth)
– Wear protective clothing to cover your skin.
– Use goggles to protect the eyes (If you wear eyeglasses, use those instead of contact lenses)
Stop ash from entering your home by closing windows and doors securely.
Do not use air-conditioning or clothes dryers.
Listen to the radio for advice and information.
Avoid driving vehicles as much as possible, as ash fall will reduce visibility.
If you must drive, avoid using the car’s air condition system.
Keep pets indoors and livestock sheltered.
FOOD AND WATER SAFETY
Ensure that all fruits and vegetables are washed carefully, especially those covered with ash. Ash
should not be ingested.
Ensure that your drinking supply (roof tanks etc.) has not been contaminated with ash. Ash gives
drinking-water an unpalatable (sour, metallic or bitter-tasting) before it presents a health risk. In
this event roof tank water should be replaced.
Wetting ash results in the formation of a glue-like material which is not easy to remove. The best
way of cleaning is to lightly damp the ash (to prevent it billowing) and to sweep it up.
Remove ash (when safe), remembering that ash particles may contain sharp broken edges making
it a very abrasive material.
Clean house roofs first to reduce windblown ash covering cleaned areas or damage to guttering
and blocking down-pipes.
Dispose of ash in rubbish bags if possible and seal them.
Do not dump ash in the storm-water or sewage system.
Vacuum indoor surfaces were possible or use a damp cloth to remove ash. Avoid vigorous
The Ministry of Health and Wellness urged the public to adhere to the guidance and visit the
nearest Wellness Centre if experiencing any respiratory signs or symptoms.