5 Avalanche Survival Tips

By on March 17, 2014
Small Avalanche

It’s been a brutally long winter for most areas of the country. This means that ski season will likely last well into the spring. For your safety, you’ve got to prepare yourself for avalanches. Below are some tips on how you can increase your odds for survival.

1. Move Sideways – The center of the avalanche is generally the most powerful, so if you feel the slide begin, immediately move to the side if you can. You may be able to avoid the avalanche altogether. At least you’ll avoid the most powerful part of it by reacting fast and moving laterally. Just stay poised and don’t lose your footing. The last thing you want to do is fall.

2. Carry an Avalanche Beacon – An avalanche beacon or trans­ceiver GREATLY increases your chance of survival. This allows first responders to find you quickly. These beacons are not cheap, but they are your best defense against dying in an avalanche.

3. Grab Something – This tip is useful for small to medium-sized avalanches as it will allow you to remain static while the snow surrounds you. It will also allow you to keep your sense of direction. Often, when one is under several feet of snow, it is very difficult to tell up from down.

4. Surf and Swim – Again, for small to medium-sized avalanches, keep your head up and surf/swim with the current of the snow. The longer you can keep yourself from tumbling and getting disoriented, the greater your chances of survival. (Watch the video as the skier describes how he swam himself to safety.)

5. Make an Air Pocket – In any avalanche, asphyxiation is your greatest enemy. Cup your mouth with your hands when you are being thrown around by the snow. This will create a small pocket of air that can keep you alive for up to 30 minutes. Once you’ve come to a stop, dig out a hole around your face. If you can, expand your chest as well. This creates even more space for air and relieves pressure from your chest cavity.

Your best defense against any natural disaster is your brain. Do not ignore avalanche warning signs for the sake of thrill seeking.

We hope you learn something. If you have any additional tips or feedback, leave your input in the comment section below.

About William Douglas

My passion is to teach what was passed down to me – the skills of self-sufficient living. Some call it survival or prepping. I call it wisdom. And my goal is to convey my wisdom and knowledge in a way that is doable for the average person.

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