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A black and white photo taken during the Mt. Vesuvius' eruption in the 1940s

Although it may seem safe to stay at home and wait out a disaster, doing so could be very dangerous. For example, the rock debris from an exploding volcano can break windows and set buildings on fire. Stay safe. Follow authorities' instructions and leave the area.

Evacuation Information*

Upon evacuation order, all noncombatant evacuees should proceed directly to the embarkation points with their Neo Kits (see below). If unable to do so, proceed to the nearest assembly point. Assembly points serve only as gathering areas for further transportation to embarkation points.

Who is Eligible to Evacuate?

Priority designations to be followed:

Category No. Major Category Minor Category
Cat I US Citizens with documentation  
Cat II Alien members of American families  
Cat III Certain alien employees  
Cat IV Other aliens  
Cat A   Pregnant women
Cat B   Women with children
Cat C   Aged and infirm
Cat D   Unaccompanied women 18 years or over
Cat E   Able-bodied males 18 years or over


Noncombatant Evacuation Order Kit (Neo Kit)

A Neo Kit is a folder you must maintain in your residence in case of emergencies and it should have the following important documents:

  • US Passport (important)
  • Personal Records (birth certificate, medical and immunization records, etc.)
  • Passports for all members
  • Sojourner's Permits
  • Housing Documents (inventory, housing contract, etc.)
  • Automobile Papers (bill of sale, registration, etc.)
  • Other Legal Documents (insurance policies, powers-of-attorneys, etc.)
  • Traveler's Checks or Other Forms of Currency
  • Copy of Neo Instruction and Local Map
  • Completed Noncombatant Information Card
  • Instructions to Dependents Upon Return to the U.S.**

It is not the intent of the regulation to have the mandatory documents centrally located in a file 
or folder. However, their location must be known and readily accessible to noncombatants.

**Noncombatants should not expect the U.S. Government to house or care for them upon 
reaching CONUS (Continental USA).

Automobile Issues

  • Vehicles should be deposited at designated points. Designated personnel will accept keys at the embarkation point.
  • If a family members stays behind, leave the keys and proof of ownership with him/her.
  • If everyone is evacuating, keys should be tagged with the following information: license plate number; make,; color; year of vehicle; and location of vehicle.

Household Goods/POVs/Pets

Arrangements will be made to ship your goods and POVs at a later date, if the situation allows. Include an inventory of household goods and POV documentation in your evacuation kit, and accept that you may have to file a claim for reimbursement. Pets will NOT be transported, you must make your own arrangements. For more details on evacuation precautions and procedures, go to the Emergency Preparedness page.

Steps to be Taken During an Eruption

Follow the evacuation order issued by authorities. Avoid areas downwind of the volcano. If caught indoors:

  • Close all windows, doors, and dampers.
  • Put all machinery inside a garage or barn.
  • Bring animals and livestock into closed shelters. 

If trapped outdoors:

  • Seek shelter indoors.
  • Avoid low-lying area where poisonous gases can collect and flash floods can be most dangerous.
  • If caught in a rockfall, roll into a ball to protect head.
  • If caught near a stream, beware of mudflows. Protect yourself: Wear long sleeved shirts and pants.
  • Use goggles to protect eyes.
  • Use a dust-mask or hold a damp cloth over face to help breathing. Keep car or truck engines off. Stay out of the area. A lateral blast of a volcano can travel many miles from the mountain. Trying to watch an erupting volcano is a deadly idea.

Watching Out for Mudflows

Mudflows are powerful "rivers" of mud that can move faster than people can walk or run. Mudflows occur when rain falls through ash-carrying clouds or when rivers are damed during an eruption. They are most dangerous close to stream channels. When you approach a bridge, first look upstream. If a mud-flow is approaching or moving beneath the bridge, do not cross the bridge. The power of the mudflow can destroy a bridge very quickly.

Steps to be Taken After an Eruption

Listen to a battery-powered radio or television for the latest emergency information. Stay away from volcanic ashfall. When outside:

  • Cover your mouth and nose. A number of victims of the Mount St. Helens volcano died from inhaling ash. Wear goggles to protect your eyes.
  • Keep skin covered to avoid irritation or burns. If you have a respiratory ailment, avoid contact with any amount of ash.
  • Stay indoors until local health officials advise it is safe to go outside.
  • Avoid driving in heavy ashfall.Driving will stir up more ash that can clog engines and stall vehicles.
  • Clear roofs of ashfall. Ashfall is very heavy and can cause buildings to collapse.
  • Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance--infants, elderly people, and people with disabilities.

Also refer to the Emergency Preparedness Page for additional precautionary steps.


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