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What To Do If You Can't Get A Hold Of N95 Masks For The Ashfall

Stay safe!
IMAGE Hannah Villafuerte

Following the phreatic (steam-driven) eruption of Taal Volcano that began on January 12, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) has put Taal Volcano on Alert Level 4, suggesting that an explosive eruption is possible within hours or days.

Volcanic ash from the eruption has reached beyond Batangas where the volcano is located. According to PHIVOLCS, ash fall has been experienced in places including Sta. Rosa, Lagunas; Dasmariñas, Bacoor, Silang, Cavite; Mecauayan, Bulacan; Antipolo, Rizal; Muntinlupa, Marikina, Pasig, Quezon City, and Makati, among others.

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According to Department of Health, volcanic ash contains carbon dioxide and fluorine which may cause health problems like eye irritation, extreme cough, and skin irritation. To protect yourselves from the ash fall, professionals highly encourage the use of N95 masks, a protective face mask that can filter out dangerous particles and prevent you from inhaling them. Local stores and pharmacies, however, have started to run out of such masks. In the event that you cannot get a hold of such masks, here are some alternatives to take note of:

Use a moist cloth or towel.

PHIVOLCS suggested in a statement that, although not as efficient as N95 masks, those affected by the ash fall may use a wet cloth or towel to cover the mouth and nose for protection against volcanic ash. The moisture in the cloth will help filter out the hazardous particles and keep them from entering your system.

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Layer at least two facial tissues underneath a regular surgical face mask.

If you only have the regular face masks, add extra layers of protection by stapling at least two facial tissues underneath. 

In cases of emergency, you may reach out to authorities through these hotlines:

NDRRMC - (02) 8911-5061 to 65 local 100

Red Cross - (02) 8790-2300

Philippine National Police - 117

MMDA - (02) 8882-4151 to 77

PHIVOLCS - (02) 8426-1468 to 79

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