At first, data regarding avalanches may be encouraging. According to statistics published by the Swiss journal of Geography Geographic Helvetica, the number of fatalities produced by avalanches in Europe has been decreasing since the 1970s. However, and parallel to that, the number of avalanches per year has been increasing due to several climate-related factors like global warming and deforestation. Considering the above, while we have an escenario today where dying in an avalanche is less likely, the chances of facing one are higher. With that being said, is there anything you can do to survive an avalanche if you are in front of one? The following are some important safety tips for surviving an avalanche.
Embrace prevention and favor secured locations
Embracing some preventive measures is the best thing you can do to survive an avalanche. Knowing the kind of terrain you are is a crucial tip for survival. Likewise, it is not the same to experience an avalanche in an area that has been secured than in one that hasn’t. For instance, if you are familiar with snow fences and how they work, your odds of surviving an avalanche are very high. Also, make sure you always travel or ski with at least one person. Being in company is another important preventive measure to take.
Know how to move during an avalanche
While it is easier saying it than doing it, knowing the basics of how to properly move during an avalanche is an essential survival tip. The best way to move depends on what your position is when the avalanche occurs. For instance, if the avalanche begins right below your feet you should try to jump upslope so you can avoid being dragged by the avalanche. On the contrary, if the avalanche is coming towards you, you should try to move sideways to avoid the centre of the avalanche where most of its strength is located.
Make sure people know your location
Time can make a difference between life and death. Once you are covered by snow, it is crucial to be rescued as soon as possible. In fact, it takes only 30 minutes to stay in a situation where your odds of surviving are the same as your odds of living to tell your adventure. Because of that, it is crucial that you always take with you a rescue beacon that allow people to know your exact location. If for some reason you don’t have a rescue beacon, you should try to scream during the avalanche especially if you are surrounded by other people.
Don’t forget about saving some air
When it comes to avalanches, time and air go hand by hand. In fact, one of the most important things you should keep in mind during an avalanche is air. There are a couple of things you can do regarding this. First, make sure you fill your lungs with enough air so you can use more room to breath after the avalanche has finished. Second, once you are covered by snow, try to dig a hole around your face as fast as you can. That will give you some precious extra time that can safe your life.