Is it dangerous to visit the volcano in Hawaii?


Country: United States


I posted this question because it comes up from time to time, often when people are hiking around the volcano. Millions of visitors come every year to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to view what is considered to be the most active volcano on the planet. Kilauea has been erupting for decades. It is not showering lava down on visitors, nor spewing showers of lava rocks all over Puna.

The park allows visitors into areas deemed safe. Part of the road around the crater has been closed for many months due to an explosive eruption at the crater that opened a hole from which spews sulphur dioxide gas in an enormous plume. The trade winds blow this gas away from the park, generally up the coast and out to sea. From time to time the winds are not as strong and the gas mixes into the air to form "vog". This vog can cause headaches and breathed over a long period of time aggravates certain respiratory conditions. It is likely that to breathe it all the time would exacerbate or even cause chronic health problems. It is not safe to breathe for those with heart conditions. That being said, please note that the park itself is rarely voggy.

Families sometimes express concern for their children hiking near a surface lava flow. The temperatures reached in a surface lava flow are intense. The lava moves very slowly, from the Kilauea eruption, advancing inches per hour sometimes. It can flow in rivers, when there is a big surface outbreak. The heat is so intense you cannot walk right up to it, ordinarily. It will keep you away.

Presently, there are so many safety precautions outside the park where the surface flow is seen from Kalapana that you will be looking from a great distance.

For more information on lava safety, see the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park website, and go to the eruption update.

Aloha, and enjoy your Hawaiian adventures.
Aloha from Hawaii,
It is always a good idea to keep safety in mind when visiting ANYWHERE. A volcano is no different. Preppare for the journey by wearing sunblock, shoes and socks, and pants if you are worried about scratches on legs from bushes and rocks.
Hawaii has a lot of wonderful places to visit and see but always use common sense first before venturing out for any excursion.
Also is always a good idea to talk to any park rangers or representitives for info about everchanging conditions that could be occuring.
Mahalo and take care
It's safe if you heed the rules of rangers at the park or the officials and the lava viewing areas.

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