A "condition red" air quality alert was issued Monday after the Hawaii Fire Department reported that fissures in the southeast area of Lanipuna Gardens near Kilauea volcano are releasing high levels of sulfur dioxide gas.
Hawaii civil officials urged residents to take action to limit further exposure, warning that "condition red" means immediate danger to health.
Severe conditions may exist such as choking and an inability to breathe, situations that affects the entire exposed population, said the Hawaii County Civil Defense, noting sulfur dioxide gas and other emissions are hazardous, especially for elderly, young children and babies and people with respiratory problems.
Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HEMA) also offered suggestions to nearby residents about how to cope with hazardous volcanic gas emissions in an emergency proclamation issued Monday.
"Leaving the area of volcanic activity or sheltering in place are the best ways to protect yourself and your family," it said.
HEMA officials recommended local residents avoid outdoor activities,drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration, stay indoors and close windows and doors prior to gas inundation, among others.
Kilauea, one of the world's most active volcanoes, has been spitting lava in recent days. Lava flows from fissures on its flank have destroyed dozens of homes and other buildings and caused the evacuation of thousands of residents.