THIS ENTIRE SITE TRANSLATES INTO 100 DIFFERENT LANGUAGES, TRY IT,--upper left                                                       
       



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Drop Content Here
DR DAVID CLEVELAND 508-487-1956  or  508-487-1981
CLEVELAND78@LIVE.COM
MOUNTAIN AVALANCHE
AVALANCHE SURVIVAL

Avalanche Precaution - Rules of Thumb

*Only one person at a time on a suspect slope: 

all others watch the person that may be in danger.

*Remove ski pole straps and ski safety straps; loosen 

all equipment, put on and fasten mitts, cap, and all other

 clothing before being exposed to avalanche danger.

*Carry and use an avalanche cord, as well as a sectional probe.

If Caught in an Avalanche:

*Discard all equipment (skis, poles, snowboard, snowshoes). 

If you have a snowmobile, leave it.

*Remember the terrain. Be prepared for falls over cliffs, 

collisions with trees, and the stop in the runout zone.

*Seek shelter behind rocks, trees, vehicles.

*Crouch low and turn away from the avalanche.

*Cover nose and mouth.

*Brace against impact, hold onto trees, etc.


*Do not cry out or open your mouth as the avalanche is

 occurring.

As the avalanche slows:

*Pull hands and arms to the face and make an air space.

*Thrust and kick to the surface just before the snow comes to a complete stop.

*Try to stay on top and work your way to the side of the avalanche.

*Thrust an arm toward the surface.

When the avalanche has stopped:

*Try to dig yourself out.

*Call out when you can, especially when rescuers are near.

*Though we're sure it will be close to impossible, try to stay calm. The most important thing you can have at that moment is a clear 

head. Use it.

If you are the Survivor:

*Mark the place where you last saw the victims.

*Search for them in the fall line and directly below the last 

seen point.

*Search the area of greatest snow deposition first.

You are their best hope for survival. Do not desert those 

trapped and go for help unless you are certain help is only a few minutes away.

Remember, you must consider not only the time for you go

 to get help, but the time required for help to return. Also, 

the victim has only a 50% chance of surviving for an hour.

If you do go for help, mark the route so a rescue party can follow it back.

Now if you are in a vehicle, the first thing to do is turn off the

 engine. Do not smoke or use matches. While it may not be

 obvious at first, these activities will waste what precious air 

you have - a definite no-no.

Open a window and check for depth of burial with some kind



If you have a two-way radio, keep it turned on; it may quickly 
become your best friend in this situation. Use it to call for help. 



Search & Rescue After and Avalanche

The two very best ways to initialize a good rescue if you happen to survive, witness, or come upon an avalanche accident are:

1.) To make sure at least one of you possesses and can work an avalanche transceiver, which helps you find those lost in the snow, and;

2.) To always travel and work in a group when you are traversing the snowy realms.

A number of years ago all manufacturers of avalanche transceivers agreed to manufacture only transceivers that transmitted and received on a frequency of 457 kiloHertz (or 457 kHz). One of the benefits of using this frequency is that it allowed a new and faster searching method, called the "induction-line" technique, to be employed. Up until that time transceiver searches were conducted using an older and usually much slower technique called the "grid-search technique." This simple improvement has saved many a life.

Learning the induction-line technique is a practical skill and it should be practiced several times a season or, better still, at the beginning of each outing. Like most techniques, this procedure cannot be learned from a simple description alone.

In addition, at the beginning of each trip and at critical points thereafter, avalanche transceivers should be checked periodically to ensure the device is in working order.

The basis of the induction-line technique utilizes the fact that an avalanche transceiver actually has an electromagnetic field that surrounds it each time the transceiver transmits. This field has a three-dimensional shape somewhat like an apple, surrounding the device and whoever is using it at that moment.

Using the transceiver in 'receive' mode, the searcher moves or orients their transceiver until it is passing along one of the "flux lines" of the electromagnetic field. That "flux line" is then followed like a railroad track curving into a station (naturally the flux lines are not actually visible, but you are in effect following an induction-line or flux line - hence the name of the technique).

Once you have picked up a signal, you begin by carefully scanning to find the direction in which the signal is strongest. You now quickly move in that direction for a distance of about 15 feet - that's 5 meters to the world outside the US. If the signal immediately gets weaker, consider moving in the opposite direction instead. You always want to travel in the direction that makes the signal stronger or sound louder. On beacons with visual indicators, you want more lights or bars illuminated on an LED or LCD display.

Some points to keep in mind when pinpointing:

*Particularly if using transceivers with loudspeakers, only one person should home in and pinpoint the signal.

*When homing in on the victims location, move as quickly as possible and turn the volume of your transceiver down whenever possible.

*When pinpointing the final location, use a logical pattern and slow down so as not to miss the strongest point.

*Mark the area where the signal is strongest.

*Probe the marked area using a logical pattern.

*When the victim is hit with the probe, do not remove the probe. Notify the rescue leader of the hit. Note the approximate depth of the victim. Begin rescue digging.

Victim Recovery and Rescue Digging

Digging for a victim is tiring and can take actually longer than the search, so it is important to be as efficient as possible. Here are some tips that make the recovery process easier and faster.

If the victim is deeply buried, begin digging well away from the probe. As a rule of thumb, the hole required to expose the victim will be at least the square of the depth: that is, if a victim is buried 6 feet deep (or 2 meters), the hole required to remove the victim will be at least 6 feet by 6 feet.

Dig on the downhill side of the probe and throw snow downhill.

Too many people digging at once get in each others' way. It's a better idea to use only a few diggers at one time. Besides, diggers should be rotated often anyway - every few minutes if possible. As soon as one begins to tire or slow down someone fresh should take over. There's no room for ego here. Time is absolutely of the essence.

Deep holes may require tiers with diggers on each tier moving snow from the bottom to the surface.

When the victim is found, uncover the head and chest immediately, clear the mouth and airway, and begin first aid while the rest of the victim's body is still covered.

If a transceiver search is unsuccessful, secondary procedures - such as setting up a probe line - must be used.

Setting Up a Probe Line

If a transceiver search is unsuccessful, probe around likely burial areas; for example, around found articles belonging to the victim(s), around trees, rocks, in gullies or deep deposits. Basically anywhere known or suspected to be the victim's line of travel.

Make sure to mark recently probed areas. With every second counting, you don't need to look over the same real estate twice.

If probing around found items or in likely areas of burial is unsuccessful, an organized probe line may be useful if there are enough searchers on the scene to set one up. A probe line needs at least 6 searchers to be efficient. If there are not enough searchers, continue with the probing of likely areas.

Recent Research (Auger and Jamieson, 1997) indicates that the "three hole per step" technique is the most efficient means of probing and can be effective even with relatively small numbers of probers.

To set up the probe line, establish the most likely area of burial. Line up searchers in a straight line and space them apart approximately from wrist to wrist. Searchers probe three times: once directly in front of them, then reaching left and right with their probe about 1 1/2 feet (or about 45 cm) on either side of the middle hole. Searchers take one normal step forward and repeat the process.

As noted above, the '3 hole per step technique' has distinct advantages, particularly where a small group of rescuers must search a large area. It has been widely adopted throughout many areas as one of the quickest, easiest ways to find someone trapped under an avalanche quickly.

The Open Space Coarse Probe

On particularly rough terrain or when fewer rescuers are available, probers spread out from fingertip to fingertip. Each prober then inserts their probe once just outside of the left foot, then again just outside of the right foot. This technique provides much of the efficiency as the '3 hole' technique, but the speed with which the area is covered diminishes.

Probing for a Vehicle

When searching for vehicles a probe spacing of 4 feet (120 cm) is used. Two steps forward are taken between each probe insertion to maintain this spacing.

The Fine Probe

As noted above, the '3 hole per step' technique has distinct advantages, particularly where a small group of rescuers must search a large area. But when a protracted time has passed without success (many hours or even days) and the rescue team leader feels there's very little hope of finding a buried avalanche victim alive, an alternative probing technique may sometimes be employed. The "fine probe" technique has a very high probability of detection (near 100%). Due to the fact that it uses a much closer spacing, the amount of time and manpower required to search a given area is greater and can take as much as five times as long to probe a given area as with the '3 hole per step' method.

Self Rescue on Roads

Carrying out a self rescue where an avalanche-covered road strewn with vehicles may be involved will follow a similar procedure to that described above. There are some specific considerations, however:

*Stop in a safe location.

*Direct vehicles and people to a safe area.

*Check dimensions of avalanche and determine whether vehicles could be caught in it.

*Before carrying out any rescue procedures, carefully assess the potential for further avalanches. (Remember, you do not have as much information as you might in a backcountry situation.)

*If you feel the situation is unsafe and that no one is buried in the avalanche, simply send for help and wait for assistance. 


Getting Help After an Avalanche

Which brings us to the last real issue: getting help. If help is nearby, consider the safety of those going out, how many will be left to continue searching, the probable time before rescue teams arrive, and the survival chances of any victim(s) during that time.

Also, before going for help note the following information:

*the exact location of the accident;

*access (road, trail, helicopter);

*time of accident;

*weather and snow conditions;

*if number of people buried, how many;

*rescuers on site

Continue searching for as long as you can, but make provisions for the feeding, sheltering, and safety of searchers if an extended hunt is anticipated. 


Avalanche Locator

As we've said at the beginning of this article, no descriptions can prepare you for every eventuality; but we feel we've given you a fighting chance. Remember, even experienced mountain climbers like the ones trekking thru Nepal at the beginning of this little composition discovered what can happen in an instant during an avalanche.

Also, if it weren't for the watchful eyes of the man who wrote that Nepalese diary entry and his associate, many of their friends might still be lost in the mountains of Nepal if they hadn't been on the lookout, and if all those involved hadn't worked together thru the whole ordeal. That, dear friends, is probably the most important avalanche lesson we can give. 

Email this article to a friend. 



Survival KnifeBuy supplies from our Survival Shop 
Survival knives, survival food, water purification, maps, and other gear essential in emergencies.
Survival NewsletterSign Up for our Survival Newsletter 
FREE- Be notified of new articles on SecretsofSurvival.com, as well as receive occasional new survival tips.



ADDSecretsofSurvival.com to your Favorites